Walmart is increasing store hours for the first time since November after drastically cutting them in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
Starting June 5, stores will open an hour earlier – at 6 a.m. each day – except for Tuesday mornings, when Walmart will continue to hold its weekly senior hours for those most vulnerable to COVID-19, the retailer shared exclusively with USA TODAY.
Most pharmacies and vision centers will resume pre-COVID hours beginning July 3.
The increase in hours comes weeks after Walmart dropped mask requirements for fully vaccinated customers and employees after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance. Masks are still required at stores where a state or local mask mandate is in effect.
“With the number of fully vaccinated Americans growing higher every day, we believe we can adjust hours once again,” Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart U.S. said in a statement Tuesday.
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It’s the third time Walmart has increased hours after reducing them twice in March 2020. For five months, most stores were open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., a big change from the 24-hour service many stores offered before the pandemic.
In August, stores added 90 minutes back and delayed closing until 10 p.m. local time. Walmart then pushed back closing again – to 11 p.m. – in November during the holiday shopping season.
Smith said Walmart has made additional adjustments in the past few weeks, including the mask policy update, removing the 20% store-mandated capacity restriction, but adjusting to any local or state capacity limits, and adding back seating to Auto Care Center waiting areas.
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Stores in areas that have lifted mask requirements also can now “reassign their health ambassador from the main entrance back into another role in the store,” Smith said. The role was created in July when Walmart started requiring customers to wear masks “to remind those without a mask of our new requirements,” the retailer said at the time.
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