ABINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) - A Walmart in Worcester where nearly two dozen workers tested positive for the coronavirus is one of two Massachusetts stores temporarily closed for extensive cleaning to stop the virus’ spread.
The retail chain’s Worcester location on Tobias Boulevard was ordered to shut its doors Wednesday after 23 employees contracted the coronavirus, with the majority finding out within the last seven days.
The store was originally set to close on Thursday but the emergency order was moved up a day.
“I think it is the safest thing for the community to have that closed down until we are sure that people are not put at risk by continuing to shop there,” City Manager Edward Augustus said.
The city has ordered that the Walmart be professionally cleaned and all of its 400-plus staff members be tested for the virus.
The city of Worcester is working with the retail giant’s management to have the employees tested and they hope to have that completed by the weekend so the location can reopen.
Walmart’s Abington location also closed Thursday so crews could properly prepare the stores to reopen on Friday as the community continues to deal with a high rate of coronavirus cases, a Walmart spokesperson said.
“These one-day closures are part of a program initiated by our company and are in addition to the extensive actions we’ve taken for the well-being of our associates and customers,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “As a company, we continue to monitor our local stores to ensure we are doing everything we can to help keep our customers and associates safe as we navigate providing customers the essential items they need.”
The spokesperson added, “Moving forward, we will continue to monitor our locations in and around the Boston area, and beyond, and may make similar decisions to close a store for a day to undergo additional cleaning and restocking.”
Walmart has implemented social distancing measures and customer metering at all stores. Associates have been provided with masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Stores are conducting temperature checks and screenings for associates, in addition to installing plexiglass sneeze guards at registers.
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