Amid the coronavirus pandemic, large retail chains such as Walmart and Target are limiting the number of shoppers inside the store to encourage social distancing.
Changes have been made to the shopper’s experience as many local stores have changed their store hours or closed completely. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, large retail chains such as Walmart and Target are limiting the number of shoppers inside the store to encourage social distancing.
On Saturday, shoppers noticed Walmart had changed their store to a single-entry door through the Market.
“Stores will not allow more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20 percent of a store’s capacity,” said Dacona Smith, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Walmart.
To manage this restriction, the Walmart associates marked a queue at a single-entry and direct arriving customers there, where they will be admitted one-by-one and counted.
“It’s just different,” said Sharon Jackson who had just left Walmart around noon. “I recommend you go early in the morning and get what you need because it’s less people.”
Jackson said it has been very difficult trying to maintain everyday life, often feeling lockdown.
“I feel like someone has taken my rights away,” said Jackson. “I feel like my life is on hold and it’s messed up because no one is able to do what their normal is.”
Shopping inside the store, Walmart will institute on-way movements through the aisles in a number of their stores according to Smith.
“We expect this to help more customers avoid coming into close contact with others as they shop,” said Smith. “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.”
66-year-old, Lester Green sat in his truck with his mask on while his wife went inside to shop. Green says he has to be extra careful and cautious, even when shopping.
“We don’t run back and forth to the store like we used to,” said Green. “We try to keep in mind what’s going on now.”
The shopping experience has affected the senior shopper but local stores are doing their best to accommodate their senior citizen shoppers.
Walmart's Pine Bluff store manager confirmed curbside pickup for groceries and designated parking for those who need to pick-up their medications would still be a service for the community.
Super 1 Foods is also offering curbside orders and has designated their first two hours of operations be reserved as a dedicated time for senior citizens.
“We are asking for your help in honoring this practice and in moving any senior guests to the front of the check-out line throughout the day,” said Super 1 Foods in a press release.
In addition to designated shopping hours, seniors will also receive a temporary 5% daily discount. The discount is available to shoppers age 60 or older with valid ID.
Fees for all guests on Curbside orders are waived through May 5, 2020, as another way to help guests who are depending on them for this service, according to the press release.
“In order to continue serving our customers and communities, we share in the responsibility of all essential businesses to serve our customers while preventing unnecessary exposures,” said Brad Brookshire, Chairman and CEO for Brookshire Grocery Co. “We have protocols and procedures in place to protect our employees and customers while in our stores. We were prepared for this pandemic and are continuing to evaluate our protocols every day as further expert guidance becomes available.”
The company has provided education and signage in stores for customers and employees, with information for preventative protocols of the CDC for the COVID-19 virus. The company has also suspended the practice of allowing customers to bring reusable bags into its stores.
As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, Walmart states the health and safety of their associates and customers is what matters most.
“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,” said Smith. “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.”
On March 26, 2020, a Directive was issued, in conjunction with Executive Order 20-10, which imposed limitations on gatherings of more than ten (10) people to limit the spread of COVID-19. On April 4, Governor Asa Hutchinson determined that more actions needed be taken to protect the people of the State of Arkansas from COVID-19 and issued a directive to all businesses, manufacturers, construction companies, and places of worship who shall implement the social distancing protocols.
Those protocols include:
a. Limit the number of people who can enter into the facility at any one time to ensure that people in the facility can easily maintain a minimum six-foot distance from one another;
b. If lines form at a facility (inside or outside), facilities shall mark off six-foot increments at a minimum, establishing where individuals should stand to maintain adequate social distancing;
c. Provide hand sanitizer, soap and water, or effective disinfectant at or near the entrance of the facility and in other appropriate areas for use by the public and employees, and in locations where there is high-frequency employee interaction with members of the public;
d. Retail businesses shall provide contactless payment systems or provide for disinfecting all payment portals, pens, and styluses after each use;
e. Regularly disinfect any high-touch surfaces; and
f. Post a sign at the entrance of the facility informing all employees, customers, and congregants that they should: avoid entering the facility if they have a cough or fever; maintain a minimum six-foot distance from one another; sneeze and cough into one’s elbow; not shake hands or engage in any unnecessary physical contact.
A second Directive was issued to commercial lodgings and short term rentals including hotels, motels, and vacation rentals.
They can only permit occupancy for the following authorized guests:
a. Healthcare professionals;
b. First responders;
c. Law enforcement;
d. State or Federal employees on official business;
e. National Guard Members on active duty;
f. Airline crew members;
g. Patients of hospitals and their families;
i. Persons unable to return to their home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions;
j. Arkansas citizens unable to return to their home due to exigent circumstances, such as fire, flood, tornado, or other disaster;
k. Persons in need of shelter due to domestic violence or homelessness;
l. Employees of hotels, motels, or other service providers/contractors of a hotel or motel; and m. Persons away from their home due to work or work-related travel.