UPDATE: April 21, 2020: The number of states requiring shoppers and employees to cover their faces when inside grocery stores and other public locations continues to grow.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order on Friday requiring workers who “interact in close proximity with other employees or with the public" to wear a face covering on the job. Also Friday, Connecticut updated its Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employees to require anybody who works for a business open during the pandemic to wear a face covering. And NBC Chicago reported Monday that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker indicated he was seriously considering requiring people to cover their faces when leaving home, a move already taken by many localities in the state.
Last Wednesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said people in the state would be required to wear masks while in essential businesses as a customer or employee, starting April 19, according to Lancaster Online. Maryland said the same day that that people entering grocery stores or pharmacies or riding on public transit in the state would need to cover their faces starting April 18, NBC Washington reported. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said April 15 that his state would require people to wear a face covering when in public and “unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance,” beginning April 17. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said that people who work for or visit customer-facing, office-based and other kinds of businesses must cover their faces, effective April 18, according to WJAR-TV.
- State and local authorities are starting to require customers and employees of supermarkets to cover their faces when inside grocery stores, the latest step in a campaign by public officials across the United States to stop people from spreading the coronavirus when they leave their homes.
- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive order Tuesday mandating that employees of non-medical essential businesses, which include grocery stores, wear face coverings that enclose their noses and mouths while performing their jobs. Businesses covered by the order must either provide their workers with cloth face coverings or reimburse employees for their cost. Customers are also required to cover their faces while in stores. The order goes into effect Friday.
- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said on Wednesday that employees and customers of retail establishments like grocers that are permitted to operate despite the pandemic must wear face coverings, according to The Hill. Murphy also said stores must limit the number of people they allow in at a single time to half of their approved capacity. Local officials are barred from imposing tougher rules, NJ.com reported.
The requirements from multiple jurisdictions that grocery store workers and customers cover their faces follow the CDC’s advice that people wear some kind of face covering when out in public.
In addition to Los Angeles and New Jersey, Irvine, California now requires workers of grocery stores and other essential businesses to cover their faces while at work, according to The Orange County Register. The city of Costa Mesa, also in Southern California, is developing a similar requirement, the newspaper reported.
Miami, meanwhile, issued an emergency order Wednesday requiring all customers and employees of essential businesses to wear masks or face coverings. The city, which has more than 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, will look to grocery stores and other businesses to enforce the rules, and fine or possibly shut down any that fail to comply. According to the Miami Herald, employees stationed outside a Trader Joe's store were checking to make sure customers' faces were covered.
Council members in Montgomery County, Maryland, just outside Washington, announced Tuesday that they intend to roll out a new Board of Health regulation that would require customers and workers of grocery stores and other essential businesses to wear face coverings. The council plans to vote on the regulation on April 14. Employees of these businesses will be required to wear face coverings starting April 16, and customers will have to cover their faces while in stores beginning April 23, Montgomery County officials said.
In addition, the Pentagon is requiring everybody on U.S. military property, installations and facilities to cover their faces, according to an April 5 memo from Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
The uneven rollout of rules meant to stop the virus during the past several weeks by officials across the country means that grocers are having to adapt to a patchwork of regulations instead of being able to adhere to a single set of guidelines.
Some grocers have worked together in an effort to simplify matters. As an example, grocers in Connecticut that belong to the Connecticut Food Association played a role in developing the state’s “Essential Safe Store Rules.” The rules, which went into effect April 3, lay out a range of operational requirements for stores operating during the pandemic, and recommend that employees of essential retail businesses wear gloves and face masks when working with customers or handling merchandise “wherever possible.”