As Americans struggle with what health officials say is one of the easiest ways of corralling the coronavirus, more and more major retailers are now telling shoppers they’ll have to wear a face mask or consider other options like curbside pickup.
Walmart, Target and CVS are among those enacting policies requiring that customers join their employees in having to wear a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19, which is surging in many parts of the country and has killed more than 141,000 Americans.
The practice advocated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in wide use in other nations contending with the pandemic, but has proved particularly difficult to enforce in the U.S., where being told to wear a mask is viewed as an affront to personal freedom by some Americans.
Still, the country’s struggle to contain the virus has more state and local governments enacting mask rules, and the National Retail Federation expressing hope that Walmart joining the effort would be a “tipping point in this public health debate” since Walmart is the country’s largest retailer, with nearly 4,800 stores in the U.S. and more than $514 billion in total revenue last year.
The trade group urged other retailers to follow suit, citing health risks to retail workers from customers who do not wear masks. “Workers serving customers should not have to make a critical decision as to whether they should risk exposure to infection or lose their jobs because a minority of people refuse to wear masks in order to help stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus,” the group said in a statement.
Here’s a rundown of retailers telling customers to mask up or consider other means of shopping:
- Best Buy — The nation’s largest electronics retailer requires customers wear face masks, with small children and those unable to wear a mask for health reasons exempt from the policy, in effect since July 15.
- BJ’s Wholesale Club — The retailer as of July 20 requires facial coverings that cover both the mouth and nose while shopping at its locations, with children under 2 exempt. Those who don’t want to wear a mask can shop online.
- Costco — The wholesale club retailer in early May mandated workers and customers wear masks at its 547 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, exempting small children and those with medical conditions that preclude wearing a mask.
- CVS —The pharmacy giant requires all customers wear face coverings at its 9,900-plus stores across the country as of July 20. “To be clear, we’re not asking our store employees to play the role of enforcer,” its COO stated.
- Dierbergs Markets — The Midwest grocery chain is requiring customers wear masks as of July 20, excluding those under the age of nine and those with medical conditions that prevent them from covering their faces.
- Kohls — The retailer will require customers to wear a face covering in its stores as of July 20. Greeters will be posted at store entrances to remind people of the requirement, which won’t apply to those unable to wear a mask for medical reasons, the company said.
- Kroger — The largest grocery store chain in the U.S. will require masks in all of its locations as of July 22. Small children are exempt, and those who can’t comply due to a medical condition should use alternatives such as face shields or use pickup or delivery services.
- Publix — The supermarket chain requires all customers to wear face coverings at its 1,252 stores as of July 21, exempting small children and those with medical conditions who are unable to wear masks.
- Sam’s Club — Like its parent company. Walmart, the wholesale club requires customers to wear masks at its 599 locations as July 20, with associates posted at entrances to remind shoppers of the requirement and offer complimentary masks.
- Schnuck Markets — The regional grocer requires masks as of July 20 at its 113 locations in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. Young children and those with medical conditions and unable to wear a face covering are excluded from the rule.
- Starbucks — The coffee giant mandated masks at company-owned U.S. stores as of July 15. At cafes where a local government mandate is not in place, customers without masks can order at a drive-thru, curbside pickup or have Starbucks delivered.
- Target — Target requires all shoppers, except small children and those with underlying health conditions, to wear masks as of August 1. More than 80% of the chain’s 1,800 stores already require masks due to local and state regulations.
- Walmart — The nation’s largest private employer, with 1.5 million workers in the U.S., requires all shoppers to wear a face covering as of July 20, at its 4,753 U.S. stores. Walmart “health ambassadors” in black polo shirts are stationed at entrances to facilitate the process, the company said.