Walmart has just announced that it will begin limiting store capacity to about 20% of normal levels.
Why? You don’t really have to ask why, do you? The answer is coronavirus, which seems to be the answer to everything nowadays.
This comes on the heels of Walmart limiting its store hours a few weeks ago… because of coronavirus.
A trip to Walmart was never anyone’s idea of a good time. I’m not being a snob here. I live in a semi-rural section of Southern Ohio. I’ve been to Walmart many, many times.
Despite the jokes on the Internet about the “people of Walmart”, the truth is that people of all income levels shop there at least on occasion. But it is a mass-market store.
Walmart employees, meanwhile, are generally good-natured and dedicated folks (at least at my local Walmart). But they aren’t trained in crowd control.
And that is exactly what will be needed to properly manage this newest quarantine restriction. There will be long lines, frayed tempers, and—in some locations—violence.
I understand the need for social distancing measures, given what’s going on. But it’s often seemed that these new policies are taken in a pell-mell fashion, without due consideration of the feasibility and the tradeoffs.
They also lack uniformity. Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio closed down all restaurants in the state (thereby putting them out of business), while allowing a few evangelical megachurches to continue to defy the order.
I’m also concerned about the building backlash against the shutdown. I follow Mike DeWine’s Twitter feed. There is definitely a contingent of Ohioans (dominated by those economically hit by the shutdown) who are losing patience with the situation.
(BTW: My economic livelihood has only been moderately impacted so far. But I’m not a beautician or a restaurateur.)
Will the new rule at Walmart help stop the spread of coronavirus to any substantial degree? I honestly don’t know. I do know that it will make this new reality even more difficult, albeit in an incremental way.
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