Walmart Limiting Amount of Customers Inside Stores Starting Saturday in Response to COVID-19

Walmart is making some major policy changes at it continues to be slammed with customers throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In a notice posted on Friday, the grocery and retail chain will now limit the number of customers inside its stores to an estimated 20 percent of maximum capacity. Furthermore, traffic inside the store will be directed through a one-way system. These measures, which begin Saturday, are being done to protect both customers and Walmart employees from COVID-19, also known as the new coronavirus.

"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," the company stated in a release. "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. We're also seeing states and municipalities set varying policies regarding crowd control – which has created some confusion regarding shopping. To promote health, safety and consistency for our associates and customers in this environment, we're taking some further steps for our U.S. stores."

The capacity limitation will make it so that "no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet" can be in store. This means there is no mandated number of occupants, and it will vary based on location. (The larger the store's floor plan, the more customers that will be allowed in at once, and vice versa.) This policy will be enforced by employees,who will manage lines and make customers wait outside if capacity is reached.

"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," the company stated. "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."

Another huge change will be that customers will be directed through a one-way system while shopping. This aims to reduce instances of contact in aisles.

"We'll also institute one-way movement through our aisles next week in a number of our 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," the company revealed. "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."

At the end of the policy notice, the retail giant reiterated that customers should not socialize while shopping in an effort to reduce exposure. Walmart also hinted that more policy changes could come in the future, saying it will "continue to listen to advice" from experts and shoppers as the crisis continues.

"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," the company stated. "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."

These changes follow Walmart's previous measures for limiting the spread of COVID-19, including, expanded paid leave for affected employees, limited hours for cleaning and restocking, sneeze guard installations, social distancing signage, employee temperature checks and providing employees gloves and face masks if wanted.