Jun 01, 2021
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Walmart is increasing store hours for the first time since November after drastically cutting them in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
Starting June 5, stores will open an hour earlier – at 6 a.m. each day – except for Tuesday mornings, when Walmart will continue to hold its weekly senior hours for those most vulnerable to COVID-19, the retailer shared exclusively with USA TODAY.
Most pharmacies and vision centers will resume pre-COVID hours beginning July 3.
The increase in hours comes weeks after Walmart dropped mask requirements for fully vaccinated customers and employees after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance. Masks are still required at stores where a state or local mask mandate is in effect.
"With the number of fully vaccinated Americans growing higher every day, we believe we can adjust hours once again,” Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart U.S. said in a statement Tuesday.
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It's the third time Walmart has increased hours after reducing them twice in March 2020. For five months, most stores were open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., a big change from the 24-hour service many stores offered before the pandemic.
In August, stores added 90 minutes back and delayed closing until 10 p.m. local time. Walmart then pushed back closing again – to 11 p.m. – in November during the holiday shopping season.
Smith said Walmart has made additional adjustments in the past few weeks, including the mask policy update, removing the 20% store-mandated capacity restriction, but adjusting to any local or state capacity limits, and adding back seating to Auto Care Center waiting areas.
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Stores in areas that have lifted mask requirements also can now "reassign their health ambassador from the main entrance back into another role in the store," Smith said. The role was created in July when Walmart started requiring customers to wear masks "to remind those without a mask of our new requirements," the retailer said at the time.
Walmart cleaning measures continue
Smith said stores “continue our stepped-up cleaning and sanitizing measures,” and sneeze guards will remain at all registers along with social distancing decals on floors. Employees will continue to sanitize shopping carts.
Walmart as well as Sam's Club workers, who have been required to wear masks since April 2020, four months before customers, have been able to work without a mask as of May 18, as long as they are fully vaccinated and in an area without state and local mandates.
Health checks for employees and suppliers continue before each shift, and Walmart is giving a $75 COVID-19 vaccine bonus to U.S. employees, which includes store and supply chain associates.
Walmart also is extending its COVID-19 emergency leave policy for employees through Sept. 30, Smith said.
“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.
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Walmart store hours expanding
Starting Saturday, most stores will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. unless otherwise mandated by state or local government, Smith said.
Beginning July 3, most pharmacies will return to pre-COVID-19 hours and be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. Most vision centers will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will also be open on the weekend.
To find your local Walmart’s most up-to-date hours, use the store finder on the website or on the app.
Walmart stores stopped requiring masks for fully vaccinated customers May 14, except where required by state or local mandate.
Walmart senior hour staying for now
Walmart's weekly dedicated shopping time for seniors 60 and older and those most vulnerable to COVID-19 began in March 2020 when Walmart reduced its regular hours. The hour is from 6 to 7 a.m. Tuesdays and uses the honor system.
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