Sainsbury's has extended its elderly-only hour to include NHS and social care workers.

The supermarket will now dedicate an hour of shopping time, from 8am to 9am, to elderly, the vulnerable and the valuable health and care staff. 

As thousands have taken to panic-buying, many have been left with empty shelves in supermarkets.  

READ MORE: Stop stockpiling and think of others shoppers are warned

Starting on March 23, the golden shopping hour will take place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

Sainsbury's pledged to set aside an hour of its opening time for the elderly and vulnerable on Thursday, but are now extending that pledge. 

Chief Executive Mike Coupe said: "Last Thursday, we set aside an hour for elderly and vulnerable shoppers in our supermarkets.

"Many of you have told me how much you appreciated this and that you would like this to become a regular event.

"Some of you also said we should extend this to members of our hardworking NHS and Social Care workers. And we will be doing just that."

Staff will need to show their IDs or pass when they visit during the special shopping hours. 

Tesco and Marks & Spencer have already announced they are giving health and social care workers priority shopping times.

The retailer is also consolidating its opening hours from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday, in order to be able to restock shelves.

Sainsbury’s Local and petrol station and Sunday opening times will stay the same.

Mr Coupe added that the retail giant will continue to ensure staff who are self-isolating get paid for the full period of their self-isolation. 

READ MORE: Sainsbury's pledges to make shopping more accessible for elderly and vulnerable amid COVID-19 outbreak

Customers are also being encouraged to keep a one-metre distance from staff members and to use card payments at the till. 

The CEO added: "Please also treat our colleagues and other customers with kindness and respect.

"These are unprecedented circumstances and our colleagues are being asked to come to work every day while so many others are being asked to stay at home.

"We all need them to keep coming to work to feed the nation – a small thank you goes a really long way."