ASHLAND Visibly stressed employees turned away customers one by one shortly after 2 p.m. on Wednesday at the River Hill location of Walmart Supercenter.

Patrons rolled down windows to inform those on foot in the parking lot, “They’re closed!”

The Ashland Walmart is indeed closed until 7 a.m. Friday, according to a corporate spokesperson.

Walmart made the decision as part of a company-initiated program to allow third-party cleaning crews time to thoroughly clean and sanitize the building, said Charles Crowson, Walmart’s Northern U.S. Local Communications Director.

While Walmart didn’t give any specific details regarding COVID-19 cases associated with the store, Crowson did provide a link to the company’s COVID-19 response site:

Walmart’s official statement regarding the closure is as follows:

“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. When the store reopens Friday, we will continue conducting associate health screens and temperature checks, and all associates will be provided with facemasks and gloves.

“These protocols are in addition to the extensive measures we’ve put in place during the pandemic to help protect our associates and customers, including installing sneeze guards at registers, temperature checks and mandatory mask-wearing for associates, placing social distancing signage and enacting emergency leave policy for associates who are unable or uncomfortable coming to work. Additionally, through the help of our health ambassadors, we will continue requiring customers to wear protective facial coverings while inside the building.

“We will continue working closely with elected and local health officials, adjusting how we serve the community while also keeping the health and safety of our customers and associates in mind.”

One employee directed a customer hoping to utilize pharmacy services on Wednesday to the drive-thru area.

Employees at both the “home & pharmacy” and “grocery” entrances said they could not speak to media.

One assistant manager refused to listen to any complete question from a reporter, even about when the store would reopen.

“Go, get out of here,” she said. “Don’t make me be more rude than I already am!”

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