Walmart Set to Require All Customers to Wear Face Masks
Wearing masks is the price if you want to safely re-open for business.
Walmart and Sam’s Club customers will be required beginning next week to put on a mask or face covering before shopping at all of its U.S. stores.
With the new policy, the company joins a fast-growing list of retailers—including Best Buy, Starbucks, Costco and Apple—that require the wearing of masks inside their respective stores.
About 65% of Walmart’s 5,000-plus stores, including its Sam’s Club locations, are located in regions where there’s a government mandate on face masks and coverings.
“To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20,” Walmart U.S. COO Dacona Smith and Sam’s Club COO Lance De La Rosa said in a blog post.
“This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health organizations have recommended face coverings as a way to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus—especially when physical distancing can be difficult.
Face coverings have also shown to be effective in limiting the spread by people who are asymptomatic.
“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 blog post said.
In the website post, Smith and De La Rosa said the company will post signs and train employees, in addition to having a single entrance in each of its stores. A “health ambassador,” stationed near the door, will remind customers about the new mask requirement when they enter.
“Our ambassadors will receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers,” the post 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.”
Sam’s Club locations will also have an employee standing by the door to remind customers. Complimentary masks will be provided or be available for purchase.
So far, there have been more than 3.4 million coronavirus cases and at least 136,000 deaths, according to the latest Johns Hopkins data. The seven-day average of U.S. cases is more than 59,000 and, in nearly forty states, cases are estimated to be rising by 5% or higher.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.