Walmart and Target announced this week they will begin limiting the number of people who will be allowed inside their stores at one time in an effort to promote social distancing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people stay at least six feet apart from each other, in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, CBS News reports.
As Target (NYSE: TGT) stores across the country continue helping millions of guests shop for the food, medicine and other essentials they need, the retailer today announced new safety measures to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Effective April 4, Target will actively monitor and, when needed, meter guest traffic in its nearly 1,900 stores nationwide to promote social distancing. Additionally, Target will supply its more than 350,000 team members in stores and distribution centers with face masks and gloves to wear at work, while continuing to encourage healthy hygiene habits as provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These updates are on top of action the company has taken in recent weeks with the health and safety of its guests and team members in mind, such as rigorous cleaning routines at its stores and distribution centers; social distancing measures like floor signage to encourage guests and team members to remain six feet apart; Plexiglass partitions at all registers; and contactless order pickup and home delivery.
“We’re incredibly proud of the commitment our more than 350,000 frontline team members have demonstrated to ensure millions of guests can count on Target, and we’ll continue to focus our efforts on supporting them,” said John Mulligan, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Target. “The measures we’re announcing today are aimed at ensuring we are creating a safe environment for the guests who continue to turn to Target, while also providing our team with additional resources as they fulfill an essential service in communities across the country.”
Store Traffic Monitoring and Metering
To promote social distancing with its team and guests, Target will monitor store traffic, and meter, or limit, the number of guests inside stores, when needed. Occupancy limits will vary by location and be determined by the store’s specific square footage to enhance the average space per person and reduce the possibility of congestion. If metering is required, a Target team member will provide a designated waiting area outside with social distancing markers.
Face masks and gloves for all frontline Target team members
Target will provide all team members in stores and distribution centers with high-quality, disposable face masks and gloves to wear at the beginning of every shift and strongly encourage that they be worn while working. Shoppers with Shipt, the same-day delivery service owned by Target, also will be able to obtain masks and gloves at stores across the country. All stores and distribution centers will receive face masks and gloves within the next two weeks.
Donations to the medical community
On top of Target’s previous donations of anti-viral and N95 respirator masks to first responders and healthcare professionals at more than 50 organizations across the country, the retailer also announced that it will donate an additional 2 million KN95 respirator masks to the medical community. It will continue to explore ways to secure additional inventory for those in critical need.
Encouraging healthy hygiene habits
Target is continuing to provide guidance to encourage its team members to practice healthy hygiene habits, as recommended by the CDC, including asking them to stay at home if they are sick. To date, Target has implemented enhanced benefits to support its team members, including:
- Investing more than $300 million, including higher hourly wages for frontline team members through at least May 2, which amounts to $240-$480 per team member. Also, for the first time, Target’s paying out bonuses to the 20,000 team leads who manage individual departments in stores.
- Extending benefits to team members, including waiving Target’s absenteeism policy, offering quarantine pay for 14 days and confirmed illness pay at 100% for 14 days, and making backup care available to all team members.
- Offering the opportunity to team members who are 65 or older, considered among the most vulnerable by the CDC, or are pregnant to take a fully-paid leave for up to 30 days.
- Offering dedicated shopping hours so front-line team members can purchase the essentials they and their families need
- It is precautions that companies are doing in hopes of slowing down the spread of the virus. We do not have any evidence to show that it will but hopefully people decide to follow regulations just in case it can slow it down.
CBS provided the following information as well:
Target’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, John Mulligan, said the measures “are aimed at ensuring we are creating a safe environment for the guests who continue to turn to Target.” The store also said it would provide workers at their stores and distribution centers with face masks and gloves “to wear at the beginning of every shift and strongly encourage that they be worn while working.”
On Friday, Walmart announced similar changes, also to go into effect Saturday. The retailer issued occupancy limits based on square footage, and said customers will be counted as they enter.
“Once a store reaches its capacity, customers will be admitted inside on a ‘1-out-1-in’ basis.”
We all must do our part to ensure whatever this is, is slowed down the best we can so that as few as possible are affected by it.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.
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