Shoppers Must Wear Face Masks

More localities are requiring face coverings while shopping, working in essential businesses.

April 15, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—State and municipal governments nationwide are increasingly requiring people to wear face masks or coverings when visiting c-stores, grocery stores and other businesses deemed essential to guard against the spread of COVID-19 in line with updated guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In some areas, shoppers who don’t comply risk fines of as high as $1,000.

The CDC on April 3 issued an updated recommendation regarding the use of face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The agency says Americans should use simple cloth face coverings as a voluntary public health measure in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies. 

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order April 8 that among other things requires stores to limit the number of shoppers in their stores to 50% of the stated maximum capacity, require all employees to wear face masks and gloves when in contact with customers or goods and require customers older than age two to wear face coverings.

In response, Wawa announced that it would add prominent signs in all of its 255 New Jersey stores notifying customers that protective face masks or coverings are required when out in public and while shopping at an essential business. The store will also broadcast reminders over store audio systems.

Wawa said all of its New Jersey Wawa associates will wear masks. In addition, Wawa is designating a special shopping hour from 2 to 3 p.m. for customers in high-risk categories as defined by the Centers for Disease Control.

“Wawa remains committed to delivering our purpose of fulfilling lives every day, while continuing to monitor and make adjustments as needed,” the company said.

The Fresh Market, a grocer based in Greensboro, North Carolina, yesterday started requiring all guests to wear a face covering when shopping in the chain’s stores to “help keep our communities safe,” the grocer said in an April 11 tweet.

In Willacy County, Texas, Judge Aurelio Guerra last week issued an order threatening fines of up to $1,000 for anyone older than age five found without some form of cloth face covering over their nose and mouth while inside a building still open to the public—and when pumping gas.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser last week ordered grocery stores, convenience stores and other essential businesses to comply with new social distancing guidelines by requiring customers to wear masks, limiting the number of shoppers, creating one-way aisles where possible and cease the use of buffets.

Shoppers in Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince Georges counties in Maryland, are now required to wear face coverings in grocery stores, pharmacies and large chain retail establishments. Retailers also must establish capacity limits. Fines in Montgomery County for first offenders found without masks are as high as $500. 

San Diego County, California, is requiring all employees at grocery and convenience stores, pharmacies, restaurants and gas stations to wear face coverings. Los Angeles has a similar requirement that took effect last Friday.

In Florida, the city of Miami last week mandated face masks or face coverings for all customers and employees at convenience stores, grocery stores, drugstores and other businesses still operating. Similar orders are in effect in Miami Beach, Cutler Bay and Aventura, the Miami Herald reports. Monroe County is requiring everyone inside all businesses to wear masks, as is the city of Del Ray Beach.

In Oklahoma, the Guthrie city council is requiring all residents to wear cloth face masks in public. Fines for noncompliance range from $100 to $500, KOKH Tulsa reports.

All employees and shoppers at stores operated by the Defense Commissary Agency at military installations worldwide are now required to wear face masks, according to the Army News Service.

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.