CORONAVIRUS

Walmart to start taking employee temperatures

Retailer considering one-way aisles

#x201c;Retail workers are being asked to do heroic work to keep America fed,#x201d; said Dan Bartlett, Walmart executive
“Retail workers are being asked to do heroic work to keep America fed,” said Dan Bartlett, Walmart executive vice president, said Tuesday. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Walmart said Tuesday it will begin temperature checks for all employees before they start their shifts.

The world’s largest retailer also is making masks and gloves available for employees who want to wear them.

The new steps come as grocery workers become increasingly worried about being at the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Retail workers are being asked to do heroic work to keep America fed,” said Dan Bartlett, Walmart executive vice president on a call with reporters Tuesday. “The strain put on retail is not normal.”

Walmart also is considering one-way aisles to promote social distancing by customers and said it’s started that in the United Kingdom and Canada.

There are no plans to begin checking temperatures of customers, Bartlett said, adding, “that would require clear guidelines from the government.”

Grocery stores and pharmacies are required to stay open when local and state officials declare shelter-in-place orders.

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On Monday, some employees of an Amazon.com fulfillment center in New York walked out after an employee tested positive. Instacart employees also have become vocal about their safety as they fill online grocery orders.

At Walmart, the additional steps come as the retailer has shortened store hours to allow for a deeper cleaning of stores overnight, hired more people, offered coronavirus leave policy and started adding sneeze guards at checkouts.

Walmart said it has hired 50,000 new workers since March 19 when it made its announcement.

In addition to taking temperatures, Walmart said it will ask some basic health screening questions.

It’s in the process of sending infrared thermometers to all its locations, which it said could take up to three weeks to reach its 5,355 Walmart, Neighborhood Market and Sam’s Clubs in the United States.

It employs 1.4 million people.

Masks and gloves will arrive in 1-2 weeks, Walmart said. While the CDC and other health officials don’t recommend masks and gloves for healthy people who don’t already use them for their jobs, Walmart said it will make them available “as supplies permit” for employees who want to wear them.

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Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

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All donations are tax-deductible.