The Coronavirus Safety Precautions Walmart Employees Have to Take Now

From protective gear to staggered entry, here's what Walmart is doing to keep workers and shoppers safe.

While many people have taken to ordering essential goods to be delivered to their homes to mitigate their risk of coronavirus exposure, retail employees can't help but come into contact with others. That's especially true for those working at big box retailers like Walmart, which, pre-pandemic, could expect 265 million customers to shop in its stores around the globe each week. However, with COVID-19 threatening the wellbeing of the company's employees and shoppers alike, Walmart has taken some dramatic steps to ensure safety. From altered work schedules to employee health checks, these are the safety precautions Walmart has taken during the pandemic. Want to know how else the big box store is changing? Discover these 7 Major Ways Walmart Won't Be the Same After Coronavirus.

Employees are provided masks and gloves.

white woman putting on face mask and gloves
Shutterstock/Alla Iatsun

Since the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its official recommendation that masks should be worn in any public setting in which social distancing isn't possible, Walmart has made masks mandatory for employees working in stores in high-risk areas, i.e. geographical locations where coronavirus is widespread. However, even in stores where masks aren't required, the company is providing them for all workers and encouraging their use, as well as encouraging customers to wear their own face coverings.

Stores are also providing gloves for employees to wear during their day, however, Walmart hasn't yet announced whether or not wearing them will become mandatory. And if you want to stay safe while you're shopping, these are the 7 Things You're Doing at Walmart That Put You at Risk of Coronavirus.

Stores are encouraging social distancing.

person standing in masking tape square on floor as social distancing measure in store
Shutterstock/beton studio

Those wall-to-wall crowds you're used to seeing in your local Walmart are a thing of the past—at least for now. Stores are now allowing in only five customers per 1,000 square feet of space, limiting capacity to approximately one-fifth of what was legally allowed pre-pandemic.

Store are also implementing single-direction aisles, social distancing markers are being rolled out at checkout counters, and separate doors are being used for shoppers entering and leaving the store to reduce entryway traffic.

Associates are being given temperature checks.

woman getting infrared thermometer temperature check amid coronavirus pandemic

In one of the retail giant's more controversial decisions, Walmart has announced that employees will be given temperature checks with infrared thermometers when they arrive for work, as well as being asked questions general questions about their overall health. Employees who register a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher are being sent home with pay and asked to report to work again only after they've gone three days without an elevated temperature.

Sneeze guards are being installed at registers and pharmacy lanes.

plexiglass shield at supermarket
Shutterstock/Cory Woodruff

It's not just salad and prepared food bars that will be protected by sneeze guards at Walmart going forward. In order to limit the risk of infection for both employees and customers, the company has installed plexiglass shields in the pharmacy department and is rolling out similar barriers at regular checkout counters, as well.

Stores are spraying down shopping carts with sanitizer.

walmart shopping cart

Though anyone who touches a shopping cart—whether they're store employees or customers—would be wise to wash their hands afterward, Walmart's new employee safety measures include having associates spray entire shopping carts—not just handles—with a disinfecting solution to minimize contamination. However, the company hasn't announced how frequently this will be done, so don't assume you're pushing a freshly disinfected cart every time you shop. And if you want to keep yourself safe, make sure you know these 7 Things You'll Never Want to Touch Again After the Coronavirus.

The store's paid leave policy has been extended.

sick black man under a blanket looking at a thermometer

While initially set to expire at the end of April, Walmart has extended its paid leave policy for employees. As noted in the company's "Additional Steps We're Taking for the Health and Safety of Our Associates" memo, if an associate tests positive for coronavirus, the company is now providing two weeks of paid leave through the end of May, as well as two weeks of paid leave for employees who are subject to either a Walmart- or government-mandated quarantine.

Stores are closing overnight for top-to-bottom cleaning.

walmart sign on store exterior at night
Shutterstock/William Howard

Stock up on your essentials now, because those mad dashes to Walmart in the middle of the night won't be possible for the foreseeable future. In an effort to provide adequate time to disinfect interior surfaces, stores will now only be open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., in addition to providing a weekly shopping hour exclusively for seniors from 6 to 7 a.m. on Tuesdays until the end of May. And if you want to know which businesses are booming these days, check out these 13 Retail Giants Most Likely to Thrive Amid the Pandemic.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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