The state of Vermont is now asking big box retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Costco to stop selling nonessential items such as electronics, toys, and clothing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Vermont’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development issued the order to all retailers in the state that sell food, beverage, and pharmacy items to help reduce the number of people coming into stores.

The agency said that these big box retailers must cease selling nonessential items that are not listed in the executive order, which includes arts and crafts, beauty, carpet and flooring, clothing, consumer electronics, entertainment items such as books, movies, and music, furniture, home and garden supplies, jewelry, paint, photo services, sports equipment, toys, and other nonessential items.

The order requires retailers to restrict access to these nonessential items by closing aisles, portions of the store, or removing the items from the store entirely. Nonessential items, however, can be sold online, via telephone orders, through delivery and curb-side pickup.

Also included in the order is the requirement by retailers to close showrooms and garden sections of large home improvement centers.

“Large ‘big box’ retailers generate significant shopping traffic by virtue of their size and the variety of goods offered in a single location,” Lindsay Kurrle, secretary at the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, said in a statement. “This volume of shopping traffic significantly increases the risk of further spread of this dangerous virus to Vermonters and the viability of Vermont’s health care system.

“We are directing these stores to put public health first and help us reduce the number of shoppers by requiring on-line ordering, delivery and curbside pickup whenever possible, and by stopping the sale of non-essential items.”

According to the stay-at-home executive order issued by Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, “retail businesses are allowed to serve “ basic human needs such as grocery stores, pharmacies, other retail that sells food, beverage, animal feed and essential supplies, provided, these retail operations shall be conducted through on-line and telephone orders for delivery and curb-side pickup to the extent possible.”

Target store Customers walk outside a Target store on Aug. 14, 2003, in Springfield, Virginia. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images