Walmart temporarily closed its Clearwater location at 2 p.m. Monday to clean and sanitize the building, citing the rising number of COVID-19 cases statewide as the reason behind the closure.
The store at 23106 US Highway 19 North will remain shuttered Tuesday and reopen Wednesday at 6 a.m, according to a company statement.
“Several areas across the country have begun seeing a renewed increase in positive COVID-19 cases, mainly in regions with low vaccination rates, and we want to assist health officials working against the pandemic,” a statement read.
It’s unclear if the closure was prompted by positive coronavirus cases among employees.
“The nature of the virus makes it nearly impossible to track a source, which is why – as an essential business for the past year – we are taking these proactive measures in our stores to help protect our associates and customers as best as we can,” said Brian Little, the global communications director for Walmart, in an email to the Tampa Bay Times. “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.”
An unknown third party was hired to do the cleaning. Upon reopening, unvaccinated associates will still be required to wear masks.
Associates working at Walmart locations in cities with state or local mask mandates will also don face coverings. Tampa Bay counties have not yet reissued community mask mandates. But Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties began requiring face coverings in courthouse buildings last week.
The Walmart statement also said stores “will follow CDC guidance, which includes fully vaccinated people wearing masks in public indoor settings in counties with substantial or high transmission.” Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties all have high levels of community transmission, according to the CDC.
Publix Super Markets announced Friday that all employees must wear masks regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status.