EL CENTRO — “We’re closed, we’re closed!” was the greeting customers received as they tried to enter the Walmart Supercenter here on Tuesday afternoon.
The store temporarily closed beginning at 2 p.m. Wednesday for sanitizing and restocking purposes.
The store, located at 2150 N. Waterman Ave., will remain closed all day today and will reopen to customers at 7 a.m. Friday.
The two other Walmart stores in the county, Calexico and Brawley, were open Wednesday and will remain open for its normal business hours during this time.
The closure of the El Centro store was done as part of a company-initiated program, Tiffany Wilson, Walmart’s director of communications, said.
“This will allow extra time for a third-party specialist to further sanitize the store,” Wilson said. “It will also give our associates additional time to restock shelves and prepare the store to once again serve the community during this unprecedented time.”
Customers inside the store before 2 p.m. were allowed to leave the store at their own pace.
Those who were preparing to line up to enter the store after 1:30 p.m. were caught off guard once staff told them the store was temporarily closed.
Staff also let them know the Calexico and Brawley stores were still open.
The announcement of the closure came to this newspaper via email at 12:20 p.m. Wednesday. No notice was posted on the store’s Facebook page.
Wilson did not address the reason for the short notice.
“As an essential business and member of the El Centro community, we understand the role we play in providing our customers with food, medicine and other essential items during this unprecedented time,” Wilson said. “We also understand Imperial County has been hit especially hard by COVID-19.”
She explained that the closure comes in addition to the extensive measures that have been put in place at the El Centro store, and other stores around the world, during the past several weeks to help protect the store’s associates and customers.
Those measures include 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.
When the store reopens on Friday, it will continue to conduct associate health screens and temperature checks, and all associates will be provided with facemasks and gloves, Wilson said.
“We’re monitoring our stores and making evaluations on a case-by-case basis, while continuing our cleaning and safety measures based on advice from health experts,” she said.