JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Walmart temporarily closed its Normandy Boulevard store Sunday to allow extra time for the store to be cleaned as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Florida and other areas of the country.
In a statement, Walmart said the location at 6830 Normandy Boulevard would close at 2 p.m. Sunday as part of the company-initiated program to provide more time for a third-party specialist to sanitize the store and also give associates more time to restock shelves. Walmart said it plans to reopen its Normandy Boulevard location to customers at 6 a.m. Tuesday.
“As you know, several areas across the country have begun seeing a renewed increase in positive COVID-19 cases, mainly among the unvaccinated, and we want to assist health officials working against the pandemic,” the statement reads, in part.
It goes on to say: “Everything we’re doing is for the well-being of our associates and customers, and in consideration of guidance by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and health experts.”
Many shoppers were shocked Sunday when they learned the store was temporarily closing.
“I think it’s crazy. We got here 20 minutes ago, and they said you have a few minutes to shop,” said June Lackaey. “It’s crazy for them to do it in the middle of a big shopping day.”
“I didn’t know they were shutting anything down,” Brenda Small said.
A sign could be seen Sunday at the store, notifying customers of the temporary closure. The sign states that the Normandy Boulevard Walmart’s pharmacy will remain open while the store is closed, but people who use the pharmacy are asked to call 904-786-0525 for other pickup locations.
The statement said that when the store reopens later this week, Walmart will continue to conduct associate health assessments and all unvaccinated associates must still wear face coverings.
In addition to offering COVID-19 shots to customers through walk-in or online appointments, Walmart said associates can get vaccinated at their home store pharmacy -- on or off the clock. If associates decide to get their shots elsewhere, Walmart said, the company will provide two hours of paid leave. Walmart said associates who receive the vaccine are given a $75 bonus.
“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,” the statement concludes.
According to Walmart, the Lynn Haven store at 2101 South Highway 77 was also temporarily closed.
“There hasn’t been a lot to suggest that closing a store for deep cleaning, for example, is something that’s really necessary or particularly helpful. So there may be more to that story than we know about right now, said Dr. Jonathan Kantor, who’s with the Global for Global Health.
“So any respiratory virus, you know, if you wear a mask of some sort, it’s going to reduce transmission to the person who is sick, who’s wearing the mask who’s, you know, spreading it to somebody else. Or to the person who is, you know, walking down the street who is healthy,” said Kantor.
Dr. Kantor said wearing a mask even if you’re vaccinated is helpful because vaccinated people can still spread and contract the virus.