Walmart said in an April 21 announcement that it would be launching one-way aisles in its stores to encourage customers to practice social distancing to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
The new foot traffic arrangement will be effective on Thursday, Walmart Center said in a statement on Facebook.
“One-way aisles are designed to increase social distancing and give customers more space on each aisle,” the company said, adding that floor decals would be applied to help guide the movement of people in its stores.
The move was hailed by some and criticized by others.
“Thank you. I’ve been avoiding shopping because it’s hard to keep safe. I’m high risk. Everyone may not appreciate it but I do,” one person wrote under Walmart’s Facebook post.
“I have found that it increases shopping time, causes congestion in areas of high interest, and forces people close together in groups as some of us want to pass or move around slower people and get blocked. I understand the idea behind it, but I don’t think it works very well,” said another.
Walmart’s move comes after Publix, a supermarket chain, introduced one-way aisles earlier this month.
“The health and well-being of our customers, associates, and communities are our top priority,” the Lakeland-based company said in a statement. “To help with customer traffic flow, we have added directional markings, company wide, to our aisles. This will allow customers and associates to better distance themselves while on the aisle.”
Publix said in addition to decals on aisle floors to help direct foot traffic, it would also put up signs and broadcast public announcements in stores “to remind customers and associates of the importance of social distancing.”
Walmart’s one-way aisle announcement comes after the company unveiled a new policy last Friday that requires employees to wear masks to help stem the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus.
Starting Monday, associates at Walmart and Sam’s Club, as well as both distribution center and corporate office employees, have been required wear masks or other face coverings, according to a news release.
“We believe it is simply in everyone’s best interest to use masks or face coverings to curb the spread of this disease,” Walmart noted.
Shoppers are also being encouraged to wear masks, the retail giant said in the release.
“In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission,” the agency noted.
Walmart said wearing masks is an additional health precaution and encouraged its associates to remember the mnemonic 6-20-100.
“We’re asking them to remember three numbers: 6, 20 and 100,” the company said in a separate release.
“Six feet is the amount of space people should keep from others, when possible, to maintain social distancing. Twenty seconds is the amount of time people should take to wash their hands with soap and water. And 100 is the temperature that someone should stay home with,” Walmart said.
As of Thursday, according to a Johns Hopkins tally, there were 842,624 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. The death toll from the virus nationwide was over 46,785.