April 3, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Walmart headquarters has announced changes taking place in their stores across the U.S. to protect their employees and shoppers during the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” Walmart U.S. Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dacona Smith said in a news release Friday.
“To promote health, safety and consistency for our associates and customers in this environment, we’re taking some further steps for our U.S. stores.”
Regulating Store Entry
“Starting Saturday, we 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.
“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.”
Shopping Inside the Store
“We’ll also institute one-way movement through our aisles next week in a number of our stores, using floor markers and direction from associates. We expect this to help more customers avoid coming into close contact with others as they shop.
“We’ll continue to put signage inside our stores to remind customers of the need to maintain social distancing — especially in lines. And 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.”
Walmart in recent weeks has taken steps to provide for their associates’ health and well-being, Dacona Smith stated in the news release. Paid leave policies have been expanding, the stores are closing overnight for cleaning and restocking, sneeze guards and social distance markers have been installed in stores, temperature checks are starting, and gloves and masks are beginning to be made available for employees who want them.