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Maskless protesters forced evacuation of Springettsbury Twp. Walmart

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch
Walmart stages cones for customers to line up outside in preparation for the store reaching new capacity standards in Springettsbury Township, Saturday, April 4, 2020. The measures were taken to limit the potential spread of coronavirus during the pandemic. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The Walmart store in Springettsbury Township was evacuated and temporarily closed Saturday afternoon after a group of protesters walked through the store without wearing masks, a company spokesperson said Tuesday.

“It’s my understanding there were approximately 50 to 60 people,” Walmart spokesperson Casey Staheli said.

The protest shuttered the store for about 90 minutes, Staheli said. 

“No customers or associates were hurt. No one was harassed. So we reopened,” he said.

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Springettsbury Township Police Lt. Tony Beam said Tuesday the protesters had already left the store by the time officers arrived. 

“We just got a call that people were in the store without masks, and by the time we got there, they had exited,” Beam said. “We didn’t have to deal with anybody. No arrests were made.”

Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, announced it would require customers to wear masks in all of its U.S. stores starting July 20 to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. 

Staheli declined to say if Walmart is seeking charges against the protesters.

“This is really the first time where we’ve dealt with something like this,” he said.

Word had spread ahead of time on Facebook that the group also planned to protest Saturday at the Walmart store in West Manchester Township. 

Staheli said he doesn’t think the second protest ever materialized.

“When I spoke with the other store, they were unaware of anything happening there,” he said. “The manager said there might have been something. There were a couple people in the store without a mask, but she said she’s not sure it was part of a protest. 

“There wasn’t a large crowd. That store never closed down. They never evacuated.”

West Manchester Township Police could not be reached as of noon Tuesday.

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.