Walmart Limiting Customers, Taking Further Precautions due to COVID-19
Starting today, shopping in Walmart stores across the country is going to be different as the chain of stores adapts further to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
On April 3, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Walmart U.S. Dacona Smith announced store will begin limiting the number of shoppers in the stores at one time. This is being done to help “flatten the curve” with the spread of COVID-19. Smith also announced there were measures Walmart was taking to help keep associates’ safe too.
“In this taxing and uncertain time, our associates have gone above and beyond to help Americans get the food, medicine and supplies they need,” read the statement from Smith.
Starting April 4, Walmart will limit the number of customers who can be in a store at once. Stores will now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20 percent of a store’s capacity. That will vary depending on the size of the store.
To manage this restriction, the associates at a store will mark a queue at a single-entry door (in most cases the Grocery entrance) and direct arriving customers there, where they will be admitted one-by-one and counted. Associates and signage will remind customers of the importance of social distancing while they’re waiting to enter a store – especially before it opens in the morning. Once a store reaches its capacity, customers will be admitted inside on a “1-out-1-in” basis.
Changes could be seen taking place in the Walmart in Mason, West Virginia. Shopping carts were being lined up outside and the lines for registers were being managed by an associate to ensure safe distancing between customers.
Additional changes will be coming once inside the store as well. Shoppers will notice changes in the way movement through the store will be in some stores. There will be one-way movement through the aisles next week in a number of Walmart stores, using floor markers and direction from associates.
According to the statement from Smith, “We expect this to help more customers avoid coming into close contact with others as they shop.”
Signage will be inside the stores to remind customers of the need to maintain social distancing especially in lines. Once customers check out, they will be directed to exit through a different door than they entered, which should help lessen the instances of people closely passing each other.
“We always want people to feel welcome at Walmart, and we know that in ordinary times a store is a gathering place for members of a community to connect and socialize. We look forward to the time when that is again the case; however, we now want to prioritize health and safety by encouraging customers to do their shopping at a distance from others, then head home,” read the statement.
Actions Walmart is taking for employees:
- Expanding paid leave policies
- Overnight cleanings and restocking
- Sneeze guards and social distance markers
- Making gloves and masks available to associates who want them
“While many of our customers have been following the advice of the medical community regarding social distancing and safety, we have been concerned to still see some behaviors in our stores that put undue risk on our people. We want to encourage customers to bring the fewest number of people per family necessary to shop, allow for space with other customers while shopping, and practice social distancing while waiting in lines. We’re also seeing states and municipalities set varying policies regarding crowd control – which has created some confusion regarding shopping,” according to the statement from Smith.