NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Walmart is instituting strict limits on access to its more than 4,700 stores across the nation.
As of Saturday, April 4, the number of customers allowed in store will be limited to five per every 1,000 square feet, or about 20 percent of each store's capacity.
Associates will direct customers to a marked queue at a single-entry door and they will be admitted one-by-one and counted. Associates and signage will remind customers of the importance of social distancing while they're waiting to enter a store – especially before it opens in the morning.
"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," Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Walmart U.S., wrote on the corporate site on Friday.
"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. We're also seeing states and municipalities set varying policies regarding crowd control – which has created some confusion regarding shopping."
Walmart says it's taken measures to safeguard associates' health including expanding paid leave, reducing hours to accommadate overnight cleaning and stocking, installing sneeze guards, starting temperature checks, and providing masks and gloves.
"In this taxing and uncertain time, our associates have gone above and beyond to help Americans get the food, medicine and supplies they need," Smith wrote.
Groceries and pharmacies, along with other food and medical services, have been deemed essential businesses in states that have ordered stay at home or shutdown advisories. However, stores have also been roping off what is considered "non-essential" items such as clothing to reduce the amount of time customers linger inside.
Stores in Massachusetts have gradually implemented standards including social distancing benchmarks at registers and closed self-serve stations.
At Walmart, customers will now be allowed to enter on a "one out, one in" once the store reaches the new capacity limits. A number of stores will also begin directing customers in a one-way movement using floor markers to prevent them from coming in close contact to each other.
Signage will remind customers to maintain social distancing and once they check out, they will be directed to exit through a different door than they entered.
"We always want people to feel welcome at Walmart, and we know that in ordinary times a store is a gathering place for members of a community to connect and socialize," said Smith. "We look forward to the time when that is again the case; however, we now want to prioritize health and safety by encouraging customers to do their shopping at a distance from others, then head home."
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Trail Conservancy Cautions Pandemic Care When Hiking
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Although most of the Appalachian Trail is still open, hikers are asked to practice common sense during the pandemic while on the trail or to just stay home.
COVID-19 has challenged people to find new ways to stay active while practicing social distancing and local trail volunteer Cosmo Catalano, Jr said although folks are encouraged to stay home, common sense needs to be used to maintain social distancing.
"The AT, along with other trails on public lands provides an important resource for people to get outdoors in a healthy way," he said. "With care and common sense, it's relatively easy for people to maintain appropriate social distance and enjoy the outdoors."
Catalano said the trail organization structure is complicated and is organized by a number of entities. In Massachusetts about half the trail is on state forest lands managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The other half is on lands managed by the National Park Service.
The city of North Adams has made the decision to cancel all annual summer events through Labor Day. This includes the Concerts at Windsor Lake series, Movies Under the Stars at Colegrove Park, the Eagle Street Beach Party, Downtown Celebration, and the Motorama Car Show. click for more
The City Council on Tuesday endorsed a resolution supporting bills in the Legislature that seek to expand voting by mail.
The resolution passed 7-2, with Councilor Robert Moulton Jr. and Wayne Wilkinson voting against. click for more