Walmart Changes Shopping Process to Enforce Social Distancing

Walmart announced that more changes are being made to the shopping process in its stores in response to concerns about the behavior of some shoppers who do not follow the rules of social distancing, putting their health and that of store employees at risk during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the giant retailer, while many of its customers have been following the advice of the medical community regarding social distancing and safety, the company has been concerned to still see some behaviors in their stores that put undue risk on its 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,” the company said.

In this taxing and uncertain time of coronavirus, Walmart’s associates have gone above and beyond to help Americans get the food, medicine, and supplies they need, said the company.

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To protect their associates’ health and well-being, in recent weeks they’ve taken steps such as expanding their paid leave policies; closing their stores overnight for cleanings and restocking; installing sneeze guards and social distance markers in stores; beginning temperature checks; and starting to make gloves and masks available to associates who want them.

To promote health, safety, and consistency for their associates and customers in this coronavirus environment, the company is taking some further steps for its U.S. stores, to enforce social distancing:

Regulating store entry

Since Saturday, they are limiting the number of customers who can be in a store at once. Stores will now allow no more than five customers for each 1000 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

Beginning this week, Walmart will institute a one-way movement through the aisles in several of its stores, using floor markers and direction from associates. They hope this will help more customers avoid close contact with others while shopping.

They will continue to put signage inside their 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,” said the retailer.