LINDEN — The Walmart store on Routes 1&9 temporarily closed on Tuesday but a spokeswoman denied a report it was because of employees who have gotten sick.

A sign in the door said the store in the Legacy Square shopping center in Linden closed at 2 p.m. for "additional cleaning and stocking" and would reopen at 6 a.m. Thursday morning.

Store workers told NBC 4 New York and TAP Into Linden that over 90 employees tested positive for COVID-19. But Walmart spokeswoman Felicia McCranie told New Jersey 101.5 that the statement was made by an "uninformed employee.

McCranie said the closure was part of a company program in response to the recent spikes in COVID-19 cases.

"The store closing was a pre-emptive decision. We try to get ahead of things. We see COVID cases increasing in certain communities and have a team that reviews COVID cases based on what's happening in the community specifically. We work with the local health department to determine if its best to close to pre-empt potential outbreaks."

She said an outside company will be brought in to sanitize the store during the closure, which also gives workers additional time to restock shelves and prepare the store for reopening at 6 a.m. on Thursday.

The Linden Board of Health and New Jersey Department of Health on Wednesday morning did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information.

The state COVID-19 dashboard shows 1,664 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Union County as of Wednesday.

Walmart stores in Bainbridge, Ohio and Olympia Fields, Illinois, were also temporarily closed this week. A store in Sanford, Maine was closed for the same reasons on Dec. 21. McCranie said no other stores in New Jersey are currently closed.

Following CDC guidelines with masks

McCranie said that once the store reopens, employees will follow local and state mask mandates, including at Sam's Club stores, distribution centers and fulfillment centers.

Customers are not required to wear masks inside Walmart stores.

"When the store reopens Thursday, we will continue conducting associate health assessments, and all unvaccinated associates must still wear face coverings," McCranie said.

Walmart offers its employees a $150 bonus for receiving a full dose of COVID-19 vaccinations. The company also provides two hours of paid leave and up to three days paid leave should they experience an adverse reaction.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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