'No store should do that:' Abrupt temporary closures of 2 Walmart stores leaves customers frustrated

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A rise in COVID-19 spread in the community pushed Walmart to temporarily shut the doors for two of its area stores.

Walmart announced Thursday morning, Dec. 30, it would temporarily close the Walmart stores located at W. Silver Spring Dr. and at S. 27th St. starting at 2 p.m. The company said the closure would allow for a third party company to clean and sanitize the buildings.

Some customers approved of the effort.

"Probably it is a good idea," Victoria Perez told CBS 58. "Which is on our behalf good that everything is sanitized."

But others were frustrated over what they believe was short notice by the company.

"I called to get some prescriptions filled this morning and they told me that I had to be here before 2 o'clock or I wouldn't be able to get my prescription filled until after New Year's," Sheila Polk said.

Polk said the explanation she got from store representatives over the phone and in person were not adequate.

"That's not cool, no store should do that," Polk said. "If they're going to close down and you're affecting people's health and wellbeing, you need to be open and honest and transparent and let people know you're doing this and why."

Walmart said it plans to reopen the stores at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 1.

An official statement from Walmart is below: 

As an essential business and a member of the Milwaukee community, we understand the role we play in providing our customers with food, medicine and other essential items, especially at this time.

As you know, several areas across the country have begun seeing a renewed increase in positive COVID-19 cases, and we want to assist health officials working against the pandemic. In support of this effort, we have chosen to temporarily close two Milwaukee store locations: one at 10330 W. Silver Spring Dr. and one at 3355 S. 27th St. Both of these locations will close today at 2 p.m. as part of an ongoing company-initiated program. This will allow extra time for a third-party specialist to further sanitize the store and will also give our associates additional time to restock shelves and prepare the store to once again serve the community. We plan to reopen the store to customers at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 1.

Everything we’re doing is for the well-being of our associates and the thousands of customers we serve daily, and in consideration of guidance by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and health experts. Given the rise in positive cases, we will follow CDC guidance, which includes fully vaccinated people wearing masks in public indoor settings in counties with substantial or high transmission.

In these counties and where there are state or local mask mandates, associates will be required to wear masks inside our facilities, including stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers. You can find the county-by-county breakdown here. The CDC updates its data on transmission rates weekly, so the guidance on mask usage is likely to change over time in different locations.

When the store reopens on Saturday, we will continue conducting associate health assessments, and all unvaccinated associates must still wear face coverings.

In addition to offering COVID-19 vaccines to customers through walk-in or online appointments, we’re also offering easy access to vaccines for associates. Associates can receive their vaccinations at their home store pharmacy, on or off the clock.

Should associates choose to schedule their vaccinations elsewhere, we will provide two hours of paid leave and up to three days paid leave, should they experience an adverse reaction. We are currently offering $150 bonuses for associates who choose to become fully vaccinated and have not previously received the vaccination incentive.

These protocols and convenient access to vaccinations are in addition to the extensive measures we’ve put in place during the pandemic to help protect our associates and customers. We will continue working closely with elected and local health officials, adjusting how we serve the community while also keeping the health and safety of our customers and associates in mind.

Thank you.

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