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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Target says it’s stepping up its cleaning routine to better protect customers and workers amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Minneapolis-based retailer announced Wednesday that the upgraded cleaning regimen calls for checkout lanes to be cleaned after every transaction and for dedicated workers to be tasked with wiping down carts and store entrances through the workday.

The company says it’s also pausing the policy of charging customers for using plastic bags. As for customers who do bring reusable bags, Target says they will be asked to bag their own purchases, as their bags could pose a threat to workers.

Additionally, markers and signs will be placed around the store, particularly entrances and checkout lanes, so as to remind customers to maintain social distancing while shopping.

Target isn’t taking any chances with returns. For the next three weeks, the retailer says it will not be accepting in-store returns, although it will allow for returns later, even if the policy expires in the meantime.

RELATED: Target Placing Limits On Cleaning Supplies, Toilet Paper

Aside from updated cleaning protocols, the company’s Wednesday announcement also said that Target will reduce the number of small format store openings this year. Other plans, such as adding fresh groceries and alcohol to Order Pickup and Drive Up services, will be on pause.

Last week, the company said it was investing $300 million in its workers, including increased wages, paid leave for team members vulnerable to the virus, and a fund to help workers most affected by the disease.

In Wednesday’s update, Target CEO Brian Cornell expressed his appreciation for the company’s front line workers.

“It’s been so humbling to see our team members across the country doing an incredible job keeping Target’s supply chain operating and our stores open so guests can get what they need,” he said, in a statement.

Cornell called the work of Target’s employees “critical,” adding that March sales are up 20 percent over last year, as customers have flocked to buy food, beverages, cleaning supplies and baby products in the weeks since the outbreak began spreading in the U.S.

According to researchers, more than 55,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., and more than 800 people have died. In several states, businesses considered nonessential have been ordered to close, while stores selling medicine and groceries, such as Target, are the only retailers open.

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