This Is How Nordstrom, REI and Walmart Plan to Keep Shoppers Safe Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak

Amid the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak, retailers are beginning to take extra steps to ensure employees and customers are safe while shopping.

REI president and CEO Eric Artz recently issued a statement via REI’s social media channels confirming that all of its retail locations will remain in operation, including REI Outlets and REI Adventures as well as its website, REI.com. However in light of the outbreak, Artz announced that REI will be “increasing the frequency and rigor and cleaning and [sanitizing]” in all of its “retail stores, distribution centers and office environments.”

Last week, the outdoor-focused retailer shut down its corporate campuses after two employees were potentially exposed to coronavirus. In the recent statement, Artz confirmed that REI has updated its paid-time-off policy for all employees, including retail employees with hourly pay who frequently come in contact with customers. The new policy makes sure that employees who take sick leave to care for themselves or care for sick family members “do not suffer loss of income or other benefits.”

Additionally, REI is working on updating its conditions for cancellations and refunds for all REI events and adventure travel programs to allow its customers to cancel enrollment in events without facing any financial penalties.

With its headquarters located in Seattle, the city with the highest coronavirus-related death toll in the U.S., Nordstrom is also taking similar measures to make sure its stores remain safe.

Erik Nordstrom, who was named CEO of the Seattle-based family business this week, and his brother Pete, the president and chief brand officer, sent an email directly to Nordstrom consumers noting that the retailer’s 380 retail stores will increase the “frequency and extent” of store cleanings, which was already happening daily.

Nordstrom stores are also offering free hand sanitizer to employees and customers, and the retailer’s Trunk Club personal styling boutiques will be closed and hosted in nearby Nordstrom stores during the outbreak.

Walmart, meanwhile, said today that it is activating an emergency leave policy after a store associate at its Cynthiana, Ky., store tested positive for COVID-19. In addition to waiving its attendance-occurrence policy through the end of April and offering up to two weeks pay to employees who test positive for the virus, Walmart said in an internal memo that it will “continue to take precautions and actions to keep our stores, clubs and other facilities clean.”

It added that it plans to “ensure the well-being of our associates, customers and members, following the protocols from our own health experts and relevant federal and state agencies.”

As of Tuesday, the coronavirus had infected 116,740 people and claimed 4,095 lives globally.

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