If you were planning on going on a quick Walmart run this weekend—either to get some groceries, buy some necessities in preparation for Hurricane Henri, or simply browse the superstore—you might pull into the parking lot to find your local store shuttered. Walmart shoppers from coast to coast have noticed their stores closing their doors until Sunday, Aug. 22 or Monday, Aug. 23, and the retail giant is now explaining why. Read on to find out what’s going on and to see if your Walmart is affected by the temporary closures.
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Some Walmarts are closing this weekend for deep cleanings.
In its COVID-19 information guidelines online, Walmart says its stores are mostly open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., unless otherwise mandated, and they’re typically closed overnight in order to do more “enhanced cleaning and sanitizing in stores.” However, they note, “Stores and clubs may be temporarily closed from time to time as circumstances warrant for additional cleaning and an operational refresh.” And that seems to be happening more and more lately, as COVID cases also climb.
Local news outlet KXLY in Spokane, Washington says that because of the increase in COVID cases across the country, Walmart is closing stores to do more of these deep cleanings. “Several areas across the country have begun seeing a renewed increase in positive COVID-19 cases, and we want to assist health officials working against the pandemic,” Walmart communications director Lauren Willis said in a statement to the outlet. “Everything we’re doing is for the well-being of our associates and the thousands of customers we serve daily, and in consideration of guidance by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and health experts.”
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The closed Walmarts have not necessarily had incidents of COVID exposure.
If you’re wondering if your store is closed due to a positive COVID case, you may never get that answer. Walmart would not say whether the stores being closed had reported incidences of COVID exposure. “We are not able to provide information about those impacted by COVID-19 for privacy reasons,” Brian Little, Walmart’s global communications director, told NBC News affiliate WITN in Greenville, North Carolina.
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Walmarts in at least five states are affected.
The Walmart stores that are closing for deep cleanings are typically shuttered for 40 hours, from 2 p.m. one afternoon until the store opens not the next day, but the one after at 6 a.m.
The Walmart in Spokane Valley at 5025 E. Sprague Ave. closed on Friday, Aug. 20, starting at 2 p.m. and will reopen Sunday, Aug. 22, at 6 a.m., KXLY reports.
The Walmart Supercenter in Lufkin, Texas is also closed from Friday afternoon until the store reopens Sunday morning, KSFA radio station reports. The media outlet says customers suspected the closure before it was announced because “many Lufkinites were trying to schedule their weekly curbside grocery pickup online, but were told that there were no available times until Monday morning.”
Stores in North Carolina and Mississippi are also closing for the same time period: the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Western Boulevard in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and the Walmart at 960 Brookway Boulevard in Brookhaven, Mississippi.
In Alabama, the Walmart in Dotham at 3871 W. Main St.will close from 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 21 until Monday Aug. 23 at 6 a.m. “When the store reopens Monday, we will continue conducting associate health assessments, and all unvaccinated associates must still wear face coverings,” the company told the Dotham Eagle.
Walmart is taking many other precautions as COVID surges.
Walmart’s current policy is that, per CDC guidance, “all Walmart and Sam’s Club associates working in an area of substantial or high transmission of COVID-19 are required to wear a mask or face covering while working indoors, regardless of vaccination status.” Right now, 95 percent of U.S. counties have at least substantial levels of COVID transmission, a CDC map shows.
Additionally, Walmart says, “For stores located in areas of substantial or high transmission of COVID-19, Walmart will use Health Ambassadors at the front of the store to remind customers about safety standards as they enter the store.”
Walmart stores are also encouraging social distancing by monitoring the number of customers shopping at once, sneeze guards have been put in place to protect associates, and Walmart has its hour-long early morning shopping slot on Tuesdays reserved for customers aged 60 and older, those with disabilities, and those who are immunocompromised.
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