NEW YORK—Starting next week, Walmart will not let customers enter its U.S. locations without a mask, CNN Business reports. Other national chains, including Sam’s Club, Starbucks and Best Buy, have made similar decisions for their U.S. stores. Costco has been requiring members to wear face coverings since May.
Currently, about 65% of Walmart stores, including Sam’s Clubs, are in areas where the government has already mandated masks. “To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20,” said Walmart U.S. COO Dacona Smith and Sam's Club COO Lance De La Rosa. “This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols.”
Walmart and Sam’s Club will use “health ambassadors” near entrances to enforce the policy. “Our ambassadors will receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers,” Walmart said. “The ambassadors, identifiable by their black polo shirt, will work with customers who show up at a store without a face covering to try and find a solution.”
With Starbucks’ announcement this week, the company said it “is committed to playing a constructive role in supporting health and government officials as they work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” CNN Business reports.
Kroger and Kohl’s yesterday also announced mask policies for customers. Kohl’s policy takes effect Monday, and Kroger’s mask requirement takes effect July 22.
The Fresh Market is another grocery chain directing customers to wear a face covering when shopping in the store, just like the grocer’s employees. Signs are positioned outside entrances citing state and local orders to wear face masks.
During the pandemic, many large retailers and supermarkets didn’t enact mask mandates. Retailers have expressed concerns of how employees are treated when asking non-mask-wearing customers to cover their faces.
Recently, industry groups have called for clarification on a national level about mandating face masks. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that everyone “should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public,” and that “face coverings are meant to protect other people.”
Also this week, the National Retail Federation (NRF) encouraged all retailers to adopt a nationwide policy of requiring customers to wear face coverings or masks. “The health and safety of associates and customers is retailers' number one priority and wearing a face covering or mask is scientifically proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” the NRF said in a statement. “Workers serving customers should not have to make a critical decision as to whether they should risk exposure to infection or lose their jobs because a minority of people refuse to wear masks in order to help stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus,” the association said.
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