Walmart becomes largest retailer to enforce masks in all US stores

'We know some people have differing opinions on this topic,' say Walmart executives

Justin Vallejo
New York
Wednesday 15 July 2020 18:36
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Walmart CEO discusses mandatory masks nationwide

Walmart will become the largest retailer in the US to enforce masks in all its US stores with a new policy that comes into effect next week.

The retailer on Wednesday announced that customers would be required to wear masks in both Walmart and Sam's Club stores starting Monday, 20 July.

The new policy came a day after Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said that it was "obviously something on our minds".

"We don't currently, as we're doing this interview, mandate that in our other stores but that's obviously something that's on our minds," Mr McMillon said during a Bloomberg interview on Tuesday.

Walmart currently requires masks be worn in about 3,700 of its 5,000 US locations where either a governor or other public official has mandated it.

The move puts Walmart in line with other US chains like Starbucks, Best Buy and Costco that mandated face masks in all their locations.

In a blog post announcing the policy, Walmart and Sam's Club COOs, Dacona Smith and Lance de la Rosa, said the company knows "some people have differing opinions on this topic".

"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," they said.

"We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials like the CDC."

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has changed its recommendations on face coverings, and currently says people should wear masks to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Walmart said that the policy going into effect on Monday would give the company time to inform customers of the changes, post signage, and train staff and new "health ambassadors" on the new rules.

It comes as new coronavirus cases increase in states including California, Florida, Arizona and Texas.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association last week publicised a letter to governors asking for a mandate to wear masks in stores, saying the differing rules from state to state-led to confusion and conflict between customers and staff.

"Our ambassadors will receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers," Walmart 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."

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