OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Walmart will reduce store operating hours, hold senior shopping events and limit the purchase of certain items in response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic.
Walmart stores across the country will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8:30 p.m. starting Thursday, March 19, according to a Walmart Corporate blog post written by Dacona Smith, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Walmart U.S.
Stores that already open later than 7 a.m. will continue their normal opening hours, according to Smith.
“This will further help associates restock the shelves for customers while continuing to clean and sanitize the store,” Smith said.
Although store hours are changing for customers, store associates will continue to have access to their regular scheduled shifts and full hours, according to Smith.
Walmart is also creating special shopper hours to accommodate senior citizens who are especially vulnerable to coronavirus.
Walmart stores will host an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday from March 24 through April 28 for customers who are 60-years-old and older. Exclusive senior shopping will begin one hour before the store opens.
Pharmacies and Vision Centers will also be open during exclusive senior shopping events.
Walmart will be limiting the number of certain items that a shopper can purchase, including milk, eggs, cleaning products, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.
Auto Care Centers at Walmart stores will temporarily close so that associates from those areas can focus on stocking and cleaning the rest of the store.
Only one associate will work in Walmart Vision Centers, providing essential services only, such as glasses repair and helping customers pick up existing orders. Other Vision Center employees will help in the rest of the store.
“I think every one of us has had to adjust our daily routines in some way, and it’s likely that could continue. We are paying very close attention to our stores and communities and will continue making the necessary changes to help make sure our associates are taken care of and that our customers can get what they need. Let’s all take care of each other out there,” Smith said.
The World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global pandemic on Wednesday, March 11.
As a safety precaution, public and private establishments are closing or modifying their hours and policies to prevent coronavirus from spreading further.
The virus causes a respiratory infection, resulting in symptoms such as dry cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and fever. Patients may also exhibit gastrointestinal distress or diarrhea, according to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
State officials urge Oklahomans to stay away from ill patients and to frequently wash their hands. Officials also urge community members to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
The virus is mainly spread from person-to-person, and symptoms usually appear two to 14 days after exposure. Fever, cough and shortness of breath are the most common coronavirus symptoms.
If you do become sick, you are asked to stay away from others. If you have been in an area where the coronavirus is known to be spreading or been around a COVID-19 patient and develop symptoms, you are asked to call your doctor ahead of time and warn them that you might have been exposed to the virus. That way, experts say, they have the ability to take extra precautions to protect staff and other patients.