Walmart Begins Requiring All Customers to Wear Masks

Customers headed to their local Walmart stores as of Monday will be required to wear a face mask. Announced last week, the new mandate went into effect on Monday, officially making Walmart the largest retailer to mandate facial coverings amid the coronavirus pandemic. The retailer promoted the new mandate on Twitter, sharing a video explaining that "there are millions of reasons why we’re now requiring masks. Live better. Together."

After implementing a number of new procedures amid the coronavirus pandemic, the retail giant announced on July 15 that it would be following the likes of Best Buy and Starbucks in requiring all customers to wear a face covering when shopping at its U.S. locations. Stating that "our focus and priority has been and continues to be on the health and safety of our associates, members and customers," the retailer credited the mandate to the surging number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country as well as the growing number of face covering mandates being implemented. In a blog post, Walmart US chief operating officer Dacona Smith and Sam's Club chief operating officer Lance De La Rosa said that "about 65 percent of our more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings" and that in an effort to bring "consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering."

"We know some people have differing opinions on this topic. 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 statement read. "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."

In an effort to enforce the new mandate, "clear signage" will now be posted at the front of stores, and the retailer has created the role of Health Ambassador. These ambassadors will be stationed "near the entrance to remind those without a mask of our new requirements" and will "work with customers who show up at a store without a face covering to try and find a solution." They will be identifiable black polo shirts. Walmart has also acknowledged that not everyone is able to wear a face covering. In response to this, the retailer said that associates "will be trained on those exceptions to help reduce friction for the shopper and make the process as easy as possible for everyone."