The Chehalis Walmart will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday this week for deep cleaning and sanitizing as part of a company-wide initiative to give third-party contractors more time to clean in order to assist in response to increased COVID-19 transmission locally.
The closure is effective at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. The store, located at 1601 Northwest Louisiana Avenue, will reopen 6 a.m. on Thursday.
“As you know, several areas across the country have begun seeing a renewed increase in positive COVID-19 cases, and we want to assist health officials working against the pandemic,” read a statement from Walmart Senior Communications Manager Tyler Thomason. “In support of this effort, we have chosen to temporarily close our Chehalis, Washington store … This will allow extra time for a third-party specialist to further sanitize the store and will also give our associates additional time to restock shelves and prepare the store to once again serve the community.”
News of the closure first came through a post on the store’s Facebook page. According to the post, the company’s pharmacy curbside pick-up service will remain open on regular business hours. It’s not clear if any other services will be open during the closure.
Thomason said, given the prevalence of the delta variant and escalation of cases, the store will require fully vaccinated people to wear masks in public indoor settings in counties with “substantial or high transmission,” in line with Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
COVID-19 transmission in Lewis County — as well as nearly all Washington state counties — is currently in the “high” range, according to CDC data that Walmart is following.
“In these counties and where there are state or local mask mandates, associates will be required to wear masks inside our facilities, including stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers … The CDC updates its data on transmission rates weekly, so the guidance on mask usage is likely to change over time in different locations,” Thomason said.
The Chehalis store will continue to conduct associate health monitoring and require unvaccinated associates to wear face coverings when it reopens, Thomason said.
A statewide indoor mask mandate went back into effect Aug. 23. The mandates, brought down by Gov. Jay Inslee, require all people age 5 and older to wear a face covering, regardless of vaccination status.
Additionally, Walmart is encouraging its associates to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they haven’t already. The store is offering two hours paid leave if an associate gets the poke at another location other than a Walmart pharmacy, and all associates who receive the vaccine will receive a $150 bonus and three days of paid leave should they experience any adverse reactions.
“These protocols and convenient access to vaccinations are in addition to the extensive measures we’ve put in place during the pandemic to help protect our associates and customers,” Thomason said. “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.”
The nearest Walmart to Chehalis is the Tumwater supercenter, located at 5900 Littlerock Road Southwest.