Coronavirus prompts Amazon-owned Whole Foods to convert some stores to online-only

The chain joins Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and others rolling out cleaning and social-distancing measures

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Amazon-owned grocery chain Whole Foods is going all-digital at some locations.

The move comes in wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has caused businesses to temporarily close, events to be postponed and people to stay at home.

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A Whole Foods representative told FOX Business in a statement the chain’s Bryant Park location in New York City and Inner Harbor in Baltimore will be the first to only fulfill online orders for grocery delivery. Those measures took effect Thursday.

Whole Foods San Francisco is also offering set delivery-only hours, according to the rep, who said the digital approach allows the grocer to make items more widely available.

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“With stay-at-home orders in place, customers have generated unprecedented demand for grocery delivery,” they said. “One way we are helping to meet demand is by introducing online-only stores in three cities that are temporarily dedicated to fulfilling online orders. As we navigate the challenges associated with COVID-19, we continue to find ways to increase delivery availability while navigating safety measures and social distancing.”

In a blog post Sunday, Amazon announced additional safety measures for Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh, including adding grocery pickup from around 80 stores to more than 150, hiring more than 100,000 people since March 16 and plans to launch a new feature allowing customers to secure time to shop, giving delivery customers a virtual place in line.

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Whole Foods is just one company rolling out robust changes to fight the pandemic.

Walmart is reserving an hour each day for pickup orders for first responders and at-risk shoppers. Chick-fil-A is installing hand-washing stations at its drive-thru and mall locations. Home Depot and Starbucks, as well as Amazon, are providing thermometers and asking staff to self-monitor. And McDonald's said it will screen workers before they start their shifts.

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Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.