WATERTOWN — A Jefferson County official says the county is getting numerous complaints that Walmart is not following the state’s social distancing rules for the coronavirus.
Scott A. Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Legislature and a member of the Control Room group overseeing the north region’s reopening, said Tuesday that the state is reviewing complaints that Walmart is not complying with social distancing rules at stores throughout the state.
The county is receiving complaints on a daily basis about Walmart in regards to overcapacity at its local stores, social distancing and that both customers and employees are not wearing facial coverings, he said.
Mr. Gray said “by all appearances” Walmart is ignoring the state’s guidelines and “not enforcing” the social distancing rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It looks like Walmart is not asking customers to wear masks, he said.
“It appears that they’re just going through the motions,” he said.
As the result of the complaints, the county is sending out letters to big-box retailers telling the businesses to follow Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive orders about social distancing.
According to the governor’s office, stores and businesses are required to deny customers entrance if they do not wear a face covering. The public also is required to wear masks in public.
“Thanks to New York’s data-driven approach, we’ve bent the curve of coronavirus, but we must stay vigilant,” a spokesman in the governor’s office.
“The state requires businesses to create health and safety plans, which include affirming that staff and customers will be required to wear masks. This straightforward obligation is meant to protect the public health, and stores should work with local officials to ensure it is implemented.”
Since the guidelines were put into place in March, the state has forwarded numerous complaints to the county about north country businesses failing to comply with the guidelines.
Mr. Gray said the county has a five-inch-thick mound of complaints about local businesses, including “a sporadic” number of restaurants, that haven’t followed the executive order for customers to wear masks or comply with six-foot social distancing.
When notified about a business, the county sends out letters of reminders that everyone needs to do their part in preventing the spread of the virus.
There also have been restaurants that have ordered customers to wear masks or they won’t be served, Mr. Gray said.
Walmart corporate officials in Arkansas could not be reached for comment.