Walmart to take employees' temperatures, add one-way aisles to prevent spread of coronavirus

UNION, NJ - MARCH 22: A general view of the front of a Walmart store on Springfield Road on March 22, 2020 in Union, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

This week, Walmart announced several additional measures the company plans to take to protect the health and safety of workers and customers, most notably the implementation of temperature checks for employees reporting to work.

The company had already announced enhanced sanitation protocols--the installation of contactless payment methods, and the installation of plexiglass dividers at checkout lanes--among other preventative measures designed to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

In a news release shared Tuesday, John Furner, the president and CEO of Walmart U.S., and Kath McLay, the president and CEO of Sam’s Club, confirmed that locations will soon be taking the temperatures of associates arriving at their locations, as well as “asking them some basic health screening questions.” Those whose temperatures are recorded as above 100 degrees will be provided with pay, but sent home, and/or instructed to seek medical attention. They will be permitted to return to work once they have recorded no fever for three consecutive days.

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Furner and McLay said, however, that the infrared thermometers needed to take employees’ temperatures are currently being shipped to store locations, and some may not arrive for three weeks.

In addition to temperature checks, Walmart and Sam’s Club will be providing workers with masks or gloves at their request, “as supplies permit.” The masks will arrive at stores within the next two weeks, the company says. Employees are also being told to heed “6-20-100 Guidance,” which reiterates the distance to allow between themselves and others (six feet), the number of seconds they should be washing their hands (20 seconds), and the temperature at which they should stay home from work (100 degrees).

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“We will continue to consult with health officials and experts inside and outside Walmart as this situation evolves," the said. "We greatly appreciate the work our associates are doing for customers, members, and their communities, and we will continue to prioritize their health and well-being.”

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Dan Bartlett, Walmart’s EVP of corporate affairs, had also said on Tuesday that some stores would be arranging for one-way aisles to keep the flow of shoppers moving in a single direction, Yahoo Finance reported. In response to a Yahoo reporter’s tweet, one Twitter user claimed the practice was already in effect at some Canadian locations.

A spokesperson for Walmart told the outlet that one-way aisles were also being adopted at U.K. locations.

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. 

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

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And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.