Judging from the popular sign, some stores are still struggling to get customers to wear a shirt and shoes. Now, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many stores are attempting an even more difficult feat: Starting Monday, July 20, Walmart will require customers to wear masks. Sam’s Club will, too.
In a press release Wednesday, Walmart said 65 percent of its 5,000 stores are already in areas that mandate masks. The new companywide mask requirement will “bring consistency across stores and clubs.”
“While we’re certainly not the first business to require face coverings, we know this is a simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities,” the statement says. Enforcement of the mandate will be carried out by “Health Ambassadors” who will greet customers and remind them to mask up upon entry.
The nation’s largest retailer is the latest store to move beyond suggesting masks and begin mandating them in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It’s a change that will no doubt be welcomed by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents grocery-store workers. The union this week called for mask mandates in all 50 states to “help protect workers and customers.” The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents retailers, has also called for mask mandates.
Here are the large retailers that have made the call on their own:
American Eagle and Aerie: The teen clothing stores require masks on all shoppers to “keep our associates and customers safe.”
Apple: One of the first non-grocery retailers to mandate face coverings, Apple came out of quarantine requiring shoppers to cover their faces upon entry.
AT&T: “Masks are required” at retail locations of AT&T, and customers without one will be provided a mask, the company’s website says.
Best Buy: As of July 15, customers at the roughly 1,000 locations of the electronics retailer in the U.S. were required to wear a mask. The store said the move would “help protect not only our shoppers and communities, but also the tens of thousands of Best Buy employees working to serve our customers each day.”
Costco: Unlike many of the other retailers now requiring masks, Costco was open throughout this spring’s lockdown, and on May 4, the members-only club began requiring shoppers to cover their faces. It hasn’t been without its challenges.
Dollar Tree: Shoppers at the discount retailer are required to “wear cloth face coverings when inside our stores,” according to its website.
H-E-B: The Texas grocery chain says 85 percent of its stores are in areas with local mask mandates. But in “areas that do not have a local ordinance in place, H-E-B stores will require the use of masks or facial coverings.”
Menards: Some locations of the Midwest home-improvement chain have required masks since May. Others joined this week. Now the company’s website says shoppers are required “to wear masks while shopping at all store locations.”
Smart & Final: The West Coast grocery chain has required customers to wear masks since mid-April.
Starbucks: Nearly 9,000 company-owned stores began requiring customers to wear masks on July 15. Employees were given permission to “respectfully refuse service with kindness,” if necessary.
Verizon: “Customers are required to wear cloth face covering,” Verizon says.