Walmart, Kroger will start requiring customers in US stores to wear masks

Walmart will require customers at all of its US stores to wear masks beginning next week, becoming the largest retailer to mandate facial coverings as corona...

Posted: Jul 15, 2020 11:09 AM
Updated: Jul 15, 2020 6:15 PM

Walmart will require customers at all of its US stores to wear masks beginning next week, becoming the largest retailer to mandate facial coverings as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Other national chains made similar moves on Wednesday. Kroger and Kohl's announced they would start requiring all customers to wear masks, signaling that more retailers are lining up behind mask-wearing mandates. The National Retail Federation, the main lobbying group for the industry, also called on retailers to require masks for customers.

Most major retailers and grocers initially hesitated to enact their own mask mandates for customers during the pandemic, partly over fears of antagonizing shoppers who refuse to wear them. Retailers have said they are reluctant to put their employees in the position of enforcing mask requirements.

But the ground in the retail has shifted in recent weeks as the coronavirus pandemic worsens. More than 3.3 million people have now tested positive for the coronavirus nationwide and more than 130,000 have died. Cases are climbing in much of the country and many cities and states are reimposing restrictions to contain new outbreaks, including mask requirements in public settings.

About 65% of Walmart's more than 5,000 stores, including its Sam's Club locations, are located in areas where there is a government mandate on face coverings.

'To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20,' Walmart US chief operating officer Dacona Smith and Sam's Club chief operating officer Lance De La Rosa said in a blog post Wednesday. 'This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols.'

Industry groups and unions had stepped up their calls around mask requirements for customers in recent days. Last week, the Retail Leaders Industry Association, an industry trade group, called on the nation's governors to pass statewide mandates requiring citizens to wear masks in public. The United Food and Commercial Workers' Union also urged government officials and business leaders to require masks for customers in an advertisement over the weekend.

Walmart's decision may impact other companies' policies around masks and the public's views on wearing masks, said Alan Ellstrand, professor at the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

'Walmart has a great deal of influence in this regard,' he said. 'It may signal to the public that if a large retailer like Walmart supports requiring customers to wear a mask, it is good for Americans to do so more broadly as well.'

Still, retailers have struggled to enforce mask requirements, which has sparked confrontations between customers and employees. A security guard at a Family Dollar store in Michigan was shot and killed in May after he told a customer to wear a mask, and in recent weeks, videos of confrontations between angry customers and clerks over these rules have gone viral.

Although no federal mandate to wear a mask exists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says everyone 'should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public.' The CDC said 'face coverings are meant to protect other people.'

Walmart said it will enforce the new policy by stationing 'health ambassadors' near the entrance to remind shoppers of the requirement. 'Our ambassadors will receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers,' the company 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.'

Similarly, at Sam's Clubs locations, associates at store entrances will remind customers of the face mask requirement. Complimentary masks will be provided if shoppers don't have one, the blog post said, and people can purchase masks in the club.

Walmart's policy change came after Starbucks said last week that it will require customers to wear facial coverings or masks in all 9,000 of its company-owned US stores beginning Wednesday. Best Buy also announced Tuesday that it will also require all shoppers coming into its approximately 1,000 stores to wear face masks.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 614946

Reported Deaths: 9807
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion849231342
Lake45784693
Allen33103560
Hamilton29752316
St. Joseph27572383
Elkhart24496346
Vanderburgh19679255
Tippecanoe18150144
Johnson15234296
Porter14970172
Hendricks14550253
Madison11071223
Clark10852145
Vigo10819185
Monroe9496115
Delaware9193136
LaPorte9173164
Howard8325148
Kosciusko811485
Warrick683399
Hancock6783106
Bartholomew6659100
Floyd6522113
Wayne6194164
Grant6050118
Dubois559081
Boone557968
Morgan551996
Henry512365
Marshall507884
Dearborn488745
Cass487864
Noble476159
Jackson428747
Shelby423381
Lawrence395180
Clinton375845
Gibson375560
Harrison354046
DeKalb351365
Montgomery349754
Knox337839
Miami325244
Steuben315846
Whitley313126
Wabash306951
Adams303636
Ripley301646
Putnam299152
Huntington295760
Jasper293035
White275943
Daviess271776
Jefferson267738
Decatur249983
Fayette249949
Greene242763
Posey241828
Wells237551
LaGrange230363
Scott227939
Clay225032
Randolph215848
Jennings200937
Spencer193622
Sullivan193633
Washington189023
Fountain185227
Starke177044
Jay168723
Owen168338
Fulton165430
Orange161035
Carroll160616
Rush156418
Perry156129
Vermillion150034
Franklin149933
Tipton134433
Parke13098
Pike118826
Blackford112023
Pulaski97937
Newton92621
Brown88835
Benton87110
Crawford8099
Martin75013
Warren6867
Switzerland6695
Union6297
Ohio4967
Unassigned0375

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 872918

Reported Deaths: 10856
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin102616707
Cuyahoga868931154
Hamilton65148455
Montgomery43662420
Summit35411766
Lucas31794634
Butler31451232
Stark26247445
Warren19939144
Lorain19378229
Mahoning17561339
Lake16350161
Clermont16235113
Delaware1463881
Licking13453142
Fairfield1301782
Trumbull12980317
Greene12226144
Medina11798169
Clark11094266
Wood10507158
Allen10031128
Portage9514111
Richland9275134
Miami927273
Marion7512113
Tuscarawas7455186
Columbiana7433124
Pickaway735250
Muskingum714042
Wayne7140172
Erie6253130
Ross5589100
Hancock556292
Scioto545365
Geauga518955
Darke474395
Lawrence464658
Union459130
Ashtabula457973
Sandusky440462
Huron435541
Mercer435590
Seneca435366
Auglaize425166
Belmont423948
Jefferson423969
Shelby422923
Washington396340
Athens38619
Putnam379276
Madison359930
Knox358423
Ashland349638
Fulton341744
Defiance336188
Crawford327274
Preble323637
Brown318821
Logan314835
Ottawa297443
Clinton293944
Highland282219
Williams282267
Jackson266145
Guernsey259326
Champaign254628
Fayette241030
Morrow23594
Perry235518
Holmes227274
Henry222954
Hardin217033
Coshocton208023
Van Wert204445
Gallia200126
Wyandot198151
Pike180918
Adams179815
Hocking174024
Carroll158216
Paulding145521
Noble121040
Meigs110324
Monroe103433
Harrison89821
Morgan84531
Vinton71714
Unassigned00
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