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Target Stops In-Store Returns Amid Coronavirus Outbreak "To Be Extra Cautious"

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In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and protect its employees from possible exposure, Target has temporarily stopped in-store returns and exchanges "to be extra cautious" during the growing pandemic.

"Target will stop accepting in-store product returns and exchanges for the next three weeks," the retailer announced on March 25. For those worried about not being able to make returns during the temporary suspension, Target CEO Brian Cornell said that the stores will "still honor them three weeks past the holding period."

Items purchased from Target.com can still be returned via mail using the company's online return center, according to the company website. To return through the mail, sign in to your Target account and initiate a return. Most unopened items sold by Target in new condition and returned within 90 days will receive a refund or change.

The temporary policy follows recently published research on the coronavirus that found it can survive for as long as four hours on copper, a full 24 hours on cardboard, and two to three days on plastic and stainless steel, as USA Today reported.

Along with temporary changes in its return policy, Target is also taking other steps to protect its employees and customers. For example, while customers are still permitted to use re-usable shopping bags, employees will no longer handle them and will instead ask shoppers to pack their own bags at check-out. Checkout lanes will be cleaned after every customer, and door handles and carts will be sanitized as well.

Target stores will also offer extended shopping hours for vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. "We’ll reserve the first hour our stores are open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to accommodate those shoppers," a statement from March 17 read. “Our partners at CVS will have their pharmacy locations open during that time as well.”

As it stands, Target is set to resume in-store returns three weeks from the day the statement was released — or April 15. But it is wholly possible that the changes in operations at Target stores will continue beyond that date due to changing advice from health and government officials.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.