“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,” said the company.
“We’re also seeing states and municipalities set varying policies regarding crowd control – which has created some confusion regarding shopping."
In recent weeks Walmart has taken several safety measures including expanding paid leave policies; closing its stores overnight for cleaning 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.
“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.”
Five customers per 1,000 square feet
Starting over the weekend, Walmart began 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% 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.
Once a store reaches its capacity, customers will be admitted inside on a “1-out-1-in” basis.
One-way movement inside stores
Walmart has also implemented one-way movement through its aisles with floor decals to help more customers avoid coming into close contact.
Once checked out, shoppers will be directed to exit a different door than the one they entered “which should help lessen the instances of people closely passing each other.”
While there is no official end date to Walmart’s increased store safety measures, the retailer commented, “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.”