During the COVID-19 pandemic, Walmart served as a vital place to stock up on household necessities for millions of people. However, the realities of the virus also made it necessary to change certain policies to comply with public health guidelines and local ordinances. But as the pandemic continues to wind down, Walmart has just announced a major change it is making that will go into effect over the weekend. Read on to see what the world's largest retailer is doing at its stores.
Walmart will change their store hours nationwide starting this Saturday.
For the first time since November, the retail giant has announced that it will be expanding its store hours across the U.S. after they were drastically cut at the beginning of the pandemic. According to a statement from the company, Walmart store hours will open at 6 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. beginning Saturday, June 5, unless local or state mandates prohibit the change. Pharmacy and vision center locations are scheduled to begin resuming normal hours beginning July 3.
"When the pandemic started to hit hard early last year, we restricted our shopping hours," Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart U.S., said in a statement on June 1. "We said then that we would continue to stay very close to the best science and guidance around the virus and make business choices aimed at protecting the health and safety of our customers and associates. As COVID-19 cases leveled out, we expanded our closing time late last year, and now, with the number of fully vaccinated Americans growing higher every day, we believe we can adjust hours once again."
Walmart's senior hours will still be held on Tuesdays.
While the change of store hours signals a big move back towards pre-pandemic life, there are still some policies that Walmart is keeping in place for the time being. This includes the store's weekly senior hours, which are offered every Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. for those aged 60 or older or are otherwise especially vulnerable to COVID-19, USA Today reports.
Walmart has made other COVID-related changes in recent weeks.
Expanded hours aren't the only rollback of pandemic-related policies Walmart has made lately. In the past few weeks, the company has also removed the 20 percent capacity restriction it put in place on stores months earlier, reopened fitting rooms, and dropped storewide mask mandates for fully vaccinated employees and customers in places where local laws allow them to do so.
But the company emphasizes that certain measures are being kept to ensure the safety of shoppers and associates at each location. This includes encouraging anyone who isn't fully vaccinated to wear face masks while shopping, sanitizing shopping carts, continuing to use social distancing decals, maintaining sneeze guards at all registers, and extending the company's COVID-19 emergency leave policy for its employees through Sept. 30.
"As a company, we will continue to maintain our focus and will remain ready to react and adjust as needed in order to ensure we are doing our very best to help keep our customers, associates, and communities safe," Smith said in the statement.
Target has also recently announced changes to their COVID-related store policies.
Walmart is far from the only retailer to make major changes to its stores as the pandemic winds down. On May 18, CNN confirmed that Target would no longer require that fully vaccinated shoppers or workers wear masks within stores in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) amended guidelines.
As of June 1, the company also announced that its fitting rooms would be reopening nationwide for the first time since May of 2020, USA Today reported. "Fitting rooms are open at all Target stores," the company states on its website. "We'll continue to frequently disinfect and clean our stores throughout the day, as we have throughout the pandemic, and have team members dedicated to high touch areas like fitting rooms."