Walgreens, CVS shut some stores as Omicron variant complicates staffing issues

FILE PHOTO: People walk by a Walgreens, owned by the Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., in Manhattan, New York City

(Reuters) – U.S. drugstore chain operators Walgreens Boots Alliance and CVS Health Corp said on Friday they were forced to temporarily shut some stores due to staffing issues triggered by the latest surge in COVID-19 infections.

CVS said the store closures on one or both days of the weekend are temporary and in response to the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant as well as a nationwide staffing shortage.

“The adjusted operating hours in these stores are temporary,” CVS said in an emailed statement.

U.S. department stores and drugstore chains, including Walmart and Macy’s Inc, have been forced to cut working hours or shut stores amid the spike in infections due to the Omicron coronavirus variant.

In an emailed statement on Friday, a Walgreens spokesperson said the closures affect less than 1% of the company’s nearly 9,000 stores.

“It’s an extremely limited, case-by-case basis and not specific to any region or area, as we make every effort to staff and keep pharmacy open for our patients in the community,” the spokesperson said.

Walgreens said it was working to deploy additional staff to any impacted store as quickly as possible.

(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)