Walmart has announced new measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19, including taking employees’ temperatures as they report to work and offering masks and gloves to any associate who wants to wear them.
Any Walmart employee who has a temperature of 100 degrees or higher will be sent home and asked to seek medical treatment if necessary, the retail giant said Tuesday. Walmart said any such employees would be paid for reporting to work, though it did not offer details.
Infrared thermometers are still being shipped to stores, and the temperature scanning may not go into effect for another three weeks. The masks, which are not N95 respirators, are expected to arrive in one to two weeks, the company said
Stores and businesses across the country have closed their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, most after being declared nonessential by the government.
Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, has kept its 4,756 U.S. stores open, but with reduced hours to allow additional time for cleaning and restocking.
Melissa Love, a Walmart employee and leader with the retail industry nonprofit United for Respect, called Walmart’s latest efforts a step in the right direction, but said more is needed.
“Walmart should limit the number of customers in stores, designate people to control crowds, and ensure there are no lines at registers without six feet of separation,” she said in a statement. “Walmart also needs to provide paid leave to any associates who are sent home or decide to stay home because they have a fever.”
Walmart employees, in a statement with United for Respect, have also called for customers’ temperatures to be taken before they enter Walmart stores.
Walmart has said it will provide up to two weeks’ pay for employees who test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. This paid leave does not extend to employees who are sick with other illnesses. It’s not clear whether pay will be provided to employees who have COVID-19 symptoms but are unable to get tested due to test supply shortages.
“Unpaid leave will leave me unable to pay for basic necessities,” Love said. “That’s why so many of us have no choice but to go to work even when we’re sick.”