Big retail chains are making changes to their operations to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, including to limit the number of customers inside stores.

Home Depot said Wednesday that it will start limiting the number of customers allowed into stores at one time. Other customers will be asked to wait outside and stand socially distanced from one another.

The home improvement chain also is eliminating major spring promotions to avoid driving high levels of traffic to stores. It also is limiting services and installations that are essential for maintenance and repair needs.

Home Depot continues to close its stores at 6 p.m. to allow more time for sanitization and restocking.

The retail giant said it had instituted the measures for the safety of its customers and employees.

"This has resulted in several temporary changes to our business as we look out for your safety and the safety of our associates," said Craig Menear, chairman, CEO and president of The Home Depot.

Starting Friday, membership-only giant Costco Wholesale Corp. will allow no more than two people to enter any of its stores with each membership card.

"This temporary change is for your safety and the safety of our employees and other members, and to further assist with our social distancing efforts. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding," Costco wrote on its website.

Costco also is closing its stores early - now weekdays at 6:30 p.m. for many locations.

Walmart and Home Depot will begin checking temperatures of all employees before they start their shifts.

Walmart said it begin sending infrared thermometers to all stores, clubs and distribution centers. It will take up to three weeks for thermometers to arrive, the company said.

Walmart, the world's largest retailer, also is sending masks and gloves to all its stores. The masks, which  should arrive in about one to two weeks, will be available to any employee who wishes to wear them.

The new steps come as grocery workers increasingly become worried about being at the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

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