- The list of retailers now requiring face masks or coverings in all their stores is growing, according to several company announcements and local reports.
- Meijer, Schnucks and CVS have new mask mandates that will go into effect July 20, the same day Walmart's mask-wearing mandate will go into effect. Publix has issued a mask requirement beginning July 21, and Target has asked all shoppers to cover their faces in stores beginning Aug. 1.
- The company-wide mandates are the next phase in face covering policies, as many retailers were already requiring them based on state and local rulings. For example, prior to its latest announcement, Target said about 80% of its stores had already implemented mask-wearing to comply with local requirements.
Wednesday's announcement from Walmart, the largest retailer in the U.S., appears to have been a tipping point for other companies to roll out mask-wearing mandates as the pressure to stem a rising tide of COVID-19 infections grows. A coalition of major retailers, including Kroger, CVS, Best Buy, Kohl's and BJ's Wholesale Club have all said they will make mask wearing in their stores mandatory.
Companies are making every effort to notify customers of the changes ahead of time. At Publix, customers will see special signage and hear announcements in-store. Schnucks is taking a similar approach, and will provide a complimentary mask for shoppers who don’t have one, while supplies last. The grocer is also notifying Schnucks Rewards participants of the requirement via email.
While mask-wearing has been catching on more widely in an effort to protect communities, it has also faced some resistance among shoppers who don’t think they should have to comply.
Employees may not be properly trained to handle the situation or may feel uncomfortable doing so, and it is also risky to confront customers directly considering the risks associated with physical contact. Walmart and Sam’s Club will station “health ambassadors” at the front of stores to remind customers to use their face coverings, and Sam's Club stores will provide masks for members that don't have one.
Several grocers are reminding shoppers to continue to use pickup and delivery services if they don’t want to wear a mask or can’t. In most cases, mask requirements do not apply to young children or people with medical conditions.
Costco was one of the trailblazers in requiring all shoppers to wear masks. The club store first announced the requirement at the beginning of May. While some customers praised the decision, others decided to boycott the wholesaler.