Walmart is imposing shopping restrictions and Hobby Lobby is closing its stores in response to growing concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
New Bern Post included the two chain stores in an article posted Friday morning about businesses that were not helping prevent the spread of the deadly, virulent virus.
Craven County’s COVID-19 case number more than doubled between Tuesday and Friday, according to Craven County Health Department tracking. Craven County had 13 cases as of Friday, four of whom have recovered. Two of the cases were contracted within Craven County from unknown sources, two were from direct contact with previously confirmed cases, and three were contracted from unknown sources.
Walmart Regulating Store Entry
Starting Saturday, Walmart will limit the number of customers who can be in a store at once. Stores will now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 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
Walmart will also institute one-way movement through our aisles next week in a number of its stores, using floor markers and direction from associates.
“We expect this to help more customers avoid coming into close contact with others as they shop.” Walmart said on its website. “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.
“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.
“As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, our leaders and operations teams will continue to listen to advice from medical experts, associates and customers, and consider how we can best serve people while helping slow the spread of the virus. The health and safety of our associates and customers is what matters the most.
Hobby Lobby temporarily closing all stores
Hobby Lobby will, after careful consideration, close the remainder of its stores, and furlough nearly all store employees and a large portion of corporate and distribution employees, effective Friday, April 3 at 8 p.m. The stores will remain closed until further notice.
In a statement on its website, Hobby Lobby said, “In order to allow our furloughed employees to take full advantage of the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Recovery Rebates provided to eligible employees by the federal government, we are ending emergency leave pay and suspending use of Company provided paid time off benefits (PPTO and Vacation) in accordance with the requirements outlined in the CARES Act (subject to State law requirements). However, we will maintain medical, dental, life, and long-term disability benefits for employees while furloughed through at least May 1, 2020, and will pay the cost of employee premiums for these benefits on behalf of employees while furloughed without pay. We encourage furloughed employees to file their claims with their State’s unemployment commissions as soon as possible. Upon return, employees will retain their original dates of hire and any accrued PPTO and Vacation. Our sincere gratitude goes out to our dedicated employees at this difficult time, and we look forward to the day when we can welcome them back, once we are able to reopen.
“We know our customers relied on us to provide essential products, including materials to make personal protective equipment, such as face masks, educational supplies for the countless parents who are now educating their children from home, and the thousands of small arts and crafts businesses who rely on us for supplies to make their products. Over the past several weeks, we implemented several best practices to provide a safer shopping environment, including the installation of physical barriers between customers and cashiers, enhanced cleaning, and the enforcement of social distancing measures. We are prepared to reopen our stores in a responsible way when the current situation improves, and look forward to welcoming our valued customers back to our stores. Until then, we pray for those affected by the virus, protection for the health care professionals caring for the sick, economic security for all impacted businesses and employees, and wisdom for our leaders.”