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Home Depot Plans Early Store Closures, To Stop Selling Masks As Retailers Ramp-Up Coronavirus Reponse

Home Depot said it will redirect shipments of N-95 masks to hospitals, healthcare providers and first responders around the country.

Home Depot  (HD)  said Wednesday it would close its nationwide stores earlier each day, and promote more vigorous social-distancing practices, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate across the Untied States.

Home Depot said its stores will close at 6:00 pm each day to allow for sanitization and re-stocking, and will limit the number of customers during regular hours. The retailer also said it would eliminate its major spring promotions, in order to keep customer traffic at bay, and ask its employees to conduct health checks before reporting to work. 

The company executed a so-called 'Stop-Sale' order on all N-95 face masks last week, and several weeks ago, it began redirecting shipments to be donated to hospitals, healthcare providers and first responders around the country. It also asked stores to search for any mask that may remain within its system and to donate them locally.

"As our communities battle COVID-19, The Home Depot is committed to providing the essential needs required to maintain homes and businesses while doing our best to protect our valued customers and associates," said CEO Craig Menear. "This has resulted in several temporary changes to our business as we look out for your safety and the safety of our associates." 

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"We want to thank our associates and our customers for their patience and cooperation as we work through this challenge together," he added.  

Home Depot shares closed 4.24% lower Wednesday, against a 4.4% decline for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, to end the session at $178.63 each. 

Walmart Inc.  (WMT) , the country's biggest retailer, said yesterday that it will check the temperature of all of its employees before each shift, after earlier unveiling reduced hours and social-distancing practices at its U.S. stores.