Walmart

A shopper walks into the Nogales Walmart on Tuesday, a few hours before the store was scheduled to close.

Walmart says it will close its Nogales store to the public starting at 2 p.m. on Tuesday to “allow extra time for a third-party specialist to further sanitize the store.”

The store plans to re-open at 7 a.m. on Thursday, according to an emailed statement from Tiffany Wilson, Walmart’s corporate director of communications.

“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,” Wilson said in the statement, which did not mention any specific coronavirus-related concern at the Nogales store.

In response to follow-up questions about whether the closure had come in response to positive COVID-19 cases among employees, or if employees would be tested for the disease before the store re-opens, Wilson wrote:

"Like Southern Arizona, our stores have felt the impact of the coronavirus. This is leading us to continually evaluate our responses and best practices to keep stores safe for associates and customers."

She added that the company could not provide further details due to privacy concerns.

“When the store reopens on (Thursday), we will continue to conduct associate health screens and temperature checks, and all associates will be provided with facemasks and gloves,” Wilson said in her original statement, which also pointed to protective measures the store had already taken, such as installing sneeze guards at registers, limiting the number of customers in a store at any one time, one-way aisle shopping, placing social distancing signage, and enacting an emergency leave policy for associates who are unable or uncomfortable coming to work.

With the number of positive COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in Santa Cruz County – surpassing 1,500 total confirmed infections as of Tuesday – some businesses have closed their doors temporarily or indefinitely, raising suspicions that the closures were do to sick employees.

However, unless the business wants to disclose the details, it’s difficult to confirm whether a business closed due to COVID-19 infections among staff, or remained open despite an infected employee.

As County Health Director Jeff Terrell told the NI last week, there’s no requirement that businesses close as a result of an in-house infection, and nothing that compels them to share information about coronavirus-positive employees with the government, media or public at large.

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