Walmart, Target and More Stores in Vermont Ordered to Stop Selling Non-Essential Items

Big-box retailers like Walmart, Target and Costco will no longer be allowed to sell non-essential items like toys, clothing and more to customers in stores in Vermont.

The state’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development said in a press release last week that the move was made in order to reduce the number of people coming into stores amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“Large ‘big box’ retailers generate significant shopping traffic by virtue of their size and the variety of goods offered in a single location,” Secretary Lindsay Kurrle said in a statement. “This volume of traffic significantly increases the risk of further spread of this dangerous virus to Vermonters and the viability of Vermont’s health care system.”

The stores will remain open for essential items such as food and medicine, but things like arts and crafts, beauty, carpet and flooring, clothing, consumer electronics, books, music, movies, furniture, home and garden, jewelry, pain, photo services, sports equipment and toys must only be sold online, by phone, or through delivery or curbside pickup.

The release said that retailers have been asked to restrict access to those items, either by closing aisles or portions of the store, or removing them from the floor.

“We are directing these stores to put public health first and help us reduce the number of shoppers by requiring on-line order, delivery and curbside pickup whenever possible, and by stopping the sale of non-essential items,” said Kurrle.

The announcement followed an executive order from Gov. Phil Scott, which stated that only retail businesses that served basic human needs were still allowed to host customers in person.

That listed included grocery stores and pharmacies, fuel products and supply and hardware stores, though home improvement centers were ordered to close their showrooms and garden sections.

Stores like Target, Walmart and Costco have all taken individual precautions against the coronavirus, including Target’s announcement last week that it would be providing non-surgical face masks and gloves to employees, and that it would be monitoring the number of people allowed in stores.

Walmart installed sneeze guards and social distance markers in stores, and also said it would begin making gloves and masks available to employees. The company also began regulating entry to no more than five customers per 1,000 square feet.

Costco, meanwhile, has been limiting the number of people allowed in, and has been reserving the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for customers 60 and older.

As of Monday afternoon, there were 512 confirmed cases and 22 deaths attributed to coronavirus in Vermont, according to The New York Times. There were 336,776 and 9,655 deaths in the United States.

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