Several retailers now require Americans to wear face masks while shopping, including the largest retailer in the country, Walmart. The requirements began rolling out this week, as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb, and not every state has issued face mask mandates. There are now over 3.5 million coronavirus cases in the U.S. as of July 16, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been recommending Americans wear masks where social distancing is difficult for months now and issued another statement Tuesday on how effective face masks can be. Face masks and coverings made of cloth are a "critical tool" to help slow the spread of COVID-19, an illness that has killed over 136,000 people. CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said Tuesday that Americans are "not defenseless" against the virus, adding that cloth face coverings "are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting."
While most states do have orders in place, some state governors have left it up to cities, towns, and counties to issue face mask mandates and there has yet to be one on the national level. For example, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said this week he does not plan to issue a statewide mandate, reports the Daily Memphian. In Georgia, Gov. Matt Kemp's executive order on coronavirus restrictions specifically blocked cities and counties from requiring face masks, calling the local mandates "a bridge too far," reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Meanwhile, several companies have put in their own face mask requirements, as seen below.
On July 15, Walmart and Sam's Club announced they will require all shoppers to wear facemasks. The company, America's largest retailer, said about 65% of over 5,000 Walmart and Sam's Club locations are in areas where face mask mandates are already in place. The face maks requirement will go into effect on Monday, July 20. "This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols," the company said in a statement.prevnext
Sam's Club locations will follow the same policies as Walmart stores do. Employees will be required to inform members about the policy. Complimentary masks will be made available, while other masks will be sold in stores. "We know it may not be possible for everyone to wear a face covering," the company said. "Our associates will be trained on those exceptions to help reduce friction for the shopper and make the process as easy as possible for everyone."
There was also recognition that there are some who disagree with wearing face masks, which have resulted in viral videos showing people refusing to wear them. "We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials like the CDC," the company said. "We appreciate the understanding and cooperation of our customers and members in wearing face coverings to protect their safety and the safety of our associates."prevnext
Kroger will begin requiring face masks in stores on Wednesday, July 22. The other stores owned by the company, including Fry's, Ralphs, Dillons, Smith's, Fred Meyer and King Spooners will also follow the requirement. "As an employer, grocery provider and community partner, we have a responsibility to help keep our associates, customers and communities safe," Kristal Howard, head of corporate communications and media relations at Kroger, said in a statement. "According to the CDC, wearing a facial covering, combined with social distancing and frequent handwashing, has been scientifically proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19."prevnext
Starbucks began requiring facemasks to be worn inside its cafes on July 15. Anyone who does not wear a mask in areas where there are no face mask mandates will have to order through the drive-thru window or curbside pickup. "In its continued effort in prioritizing the health and well-being of partners (employees) and customers, Starbucks today announced that beginning on July 15, it will be requiring customers to wear facial coverings while visiting all company-owned café locations in the US," the company said in a statement.prevnext
Electronics retailer Best Buy is requiring all customers to wear masks and employees will supply one to those who do not have one handy. Only small children and those who cannot wear one for medical reasons will be allowed in without a mask. "We're happy to have reopened many of our stores, where permitted in accordance with local regulations, so that you can come in and browse, shop and get expert advice or service for the products you need," the company's website reads. "But, with safety top of mind, we've taken the following precautions to help prevent the spread of illness and keep everyone safe."prevnext
Costco has required customers to wear face masks since May 4, except children under two years old and those who cannot wear one due to medical reasons. "Although some may disagree with this policy or question its effectiveness, we’re choosing to err on the side of safety in our shopping environments," Costco CEO Craig Jelinek said in a statement in May. "Costco has continued to operate during this crisis as an essential business in all of our communities, and our employees are on the front lines. As part of a community, we believe this simple act of safety and courtesy is one that Costco members and employees can undertake together."prevnext
To better serve our customers, H-E-B will expand its temporary hours of operation at stores across Texas. Starting Monday, June 8, most H-E-B stores will open at 7 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. until further notice. Find the full list from @HEBNewsroom here: https://t.co/2O0TMuuIFy— H-E-B (@HEB) June 6, 2020
Texas-based H-E-B is requiring customers to wear face masks, aligning with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide face mask mandate. "As an essential service provider at this time, masks and gloves are just another safeguard we’ve implemented across our company to protect the health and safety of our Partners, customers and communities," H-E-B COO Martin Otto said. "We are here for all Texans and we take our role to protect public safety seriously."prevnext
Dollar Tree and Family Dollar
On July 8, Dollar Tree, which also owns Family Dollar, said it would require face masks to be worn by all customers. However, the company did an about-face. The company will now only enforce mask requirements in states, cities and counties where they are already mandated. "In accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are requiring all Associates and vendors to wear face coverings when inside our stores," the company said in a statement. "We also request that our customers wear face coverings, and require face coverings where required by state or local ordinance."prevnext
In the past few days, many other stores have joined the list of retailers requiring face masks to be worn by all customers. Beginning Monday, customers at Meijer, Woodman's, Walgreens, Lowe's, Publix and CVS will be required to wear facemasks. Home Depot, Kohl's and Target have also begun mandating face masks.prev