Walmart announced on Friday that it would begin implementing new social distancing measures this weekend as it seeks to protect shoppers and employees from the spread of coronavirus.
Starting Saturday, April 4, the major retailer will begin limiting customers allowed into its store to no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet of store space. Customers will then be admitted on a "1-out-1-in" basis when the store is full.
"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," Walmart's Executive Vice President and COO Dacona Smith said in a press 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."
Walmart said that other measures are being taken inside the store to encourage social distancing. One of those measures is the creation of one-way aisles, which will be guided through arrows on the floor.
"We expect this to help more customers avoid coming into close contact with others as they shop," the press release reads. "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."
Walmart said it has already taken actions to expand paid leave, increase the frequency of cleaning within stores and install sneeze guards. Gloves and masks are also being made available to employees.
The company joins a number of other major retailers that have taken on coronavirus measures in their stores.
Target similarly announced on Thursday that it would be limiting the number of guests inside based on individual stores' square footage, but did not cite any specific numbers. Their new policy also starts on Saturday.
Target will also supply face masks and gloves to is staff at distribution centers and stores.