Walmart is the largest retailer in the world, and the company has now announced that it will require all customers to wear masks inside its stores. According to CNN, the new policy will officially go into effect next week. Notably, other companies such as Starbucks and Best Buy have also enacted face mask policies for customers who enter their buildings.
While wearing face masks is not a federal mandate, many cities have been enforcing mask laws to help slow the continuing spread of coronavirus and a number of major businesses have followed suit by creating their own requirements. In a statement about the move, Walmart said, "As the number of confirmed cases has spiked in communities across the country recently, so too have the number and types of face covering mandates being implemented." The company added, "To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting 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 new policy will also apply to Sam's Club stores as well, with Walmart clarifying that many of its stores are already located in areas where masks are required. "Currently 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," the company said. In addition to the new mask policy, Walmart also announced that it will be utilizing "health ambassadors" at its locations to remind customers of the local ordinances regarding mask-wearing, per Fox News.
Walmart's new policies come after many officials have chided the company for doing more sooner. "They've been open for the whole 18 weeks. You have closed mom and pops businesses that could have stayed open through this whole crisis and could have done the right thing, and weren't allowed to because what?" Albany County, New York executive Dan McCoy asked in a recent press conference. "They weren't smart enough? They weren't healthy enough? But the fact that we're still talking about Walmart and Target and Sam's Club and it's 18 weeks into it, and now they're gonna do this? Where were they 18 weeks ago? Making profits when the little stores, the backbone of our community, were struggling."
McCoy added, "I just find it ironic. I can't even comment anymore on it when they bring it up because it's just, it’s not even laughable. The fact that, you know, they're going to do all this stuff 18 weeks later? Thanks, Walmart." He then said sarcastically. "Thank you for rolling up your sleeves and doing the right thing."