BENTONVILLE, Ark. — In reaction to the spread of COVID-19 and differences between crowd control orders among different states, cities and other governments, Walmart has announced new limitations on shopping at its stores that will take effect Saturday, according to a press release:
• Stores will limit occupancy to roughly 20 percent of its normal capacity. While the number will differ for each store, it will be based on no more than five people per 1,000 square feet.
• Stores will set up a line at one of their doors for a single entry. In most cases, this will be the grocery entrance, according to the release. Once its capacity has been reached, people will be allowed in on a one-out, one-in basis.
• One-way movement through aisles will be established with floor markers and directions from employees. Shoppers will exit through a different door than the entrance.
"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 people," said Dacona Smith, executive vice-president and chief operating officer, in the release. "We're also seeing states and municipalities set varying policies regarding crowd control, which has created confusion regarding shopping."
Stay-at-home orders differ between municipalities. An order made for Crawford County limits crowds at "big box stores" to 50 and mandates customers to wait in their cars, not in line. An order made for the city of Joplin, however, has no such requirement.
The company has already made several changes related to COVID-19, including limited hours of operation for more cleaning and restocking, expanding paid leave for employees, installing social distance markers and making gloves and masks available to employees who request them, according to the release.
This is a developing story and will be updated.