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City officials working with retail giants for COVID-19 safety ahead of holiday shopping

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Walmart self-checkout register
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There are stipulations on local businesses in effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, but big retail giants stand alone on their protocols.

El Paso city leaders say families going to the store in big groups is one of the leading causes of the virus spreading rapidly through El Paso.

And this holiday season, city officials tell KFOX14 they’re working with big giant stores to make sure they’re taking precautions necessary for our area.

Shopping isn’t what it used to be, something that’s proved to put a strain on El Paso families.

Shopping as a family, that’s a very big deal as the holidays come in,” Jessica Herrera with the City of El Paso, said. “Most of these big-box, and malls they do know that we shop with our aunts, and our grandmothers.

Herrera is urging families not go shopping together with Black Friday and Christmas right around the corner.

“We’re going to have to work with these shopping center owners and malls to message if possible, just limit it to one family member per household,” Herrera said.

The city says it has been in constant contact with big giant stores like Walmart and Target, to make sure they’re limiting stores capacity to reflect the impact of COVID-19 in El Paso. But it’s not always that simple.

The big box stores have to get clearance from their corporate communications divisions on how they can handle the type of outreach, the type of protocols.

"The different types of health and safety measures that they’re going to have to implement,” Herrera said.

Though you don’t see one-way entrances and exits at Walmart anymore, or someone always out in the open tracking capacity, Walmart does still have hand sanitizer pumps and dispensers throughout the store, and does shut down locations periodically for deep cleaning, like it did at the Cielo Vista location on Tuesday.

Herrera said you might not always see things that are happening behind closed doors.

“They put in measures in place, that are perhaps electronic, and they’re at the door,” said Herrera. “You don’t see it, but as customers are coming in, there is a system in place.”

Target officials said it still has quantity limitations for how many people can be in the store. Target has doubled the number of drive-up spots for picking up your things to go.

For the most part, you’re going to see that most of these business establishments, a mask is required, keep in mind social distancing, and hand sanitizer.

Though the city is still wanting specific changes for their stores in El Paso, Herrera says it’s up to families to follow guidelines.

KFOX14 did ask Walmart and Target if they would implement more safety protocols for its stores specifically in El Paso but haven’t heard back yet.

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