Customers shopping at Walmart and its membership-only retail warehouse Sam’s Club will be required to wear face coverings starting July 20, the U.S. mega retailer announced Wednesday.
Approximately 265 million customers visit Walmart and its affiliates each week, the company says, and 65% of its 5,000 stores are in areas where there’s already some kind of government requirement for face coverings.
Several large companies, such as Apple and Costco had previously instituted face covering requirements at their retail outlets. Starbucks and Best Buy have also announced a mandatory mask order for its customers.
Companies are facing the difficult and politically charged decision of whether or not to obligate customers to don face coverings. As coronavirus cases explode across the U.S., experts are calling for increased social distancing measures and mask-wearing, while the internet is rife with viral videos of disgruntled customers haranguing employees over mask requirements.
“We know some people have differing opinions on this topic. 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 (Centers for Disease Control),” Walmart’s chief operating officers, Dacona Smith, wrote in a blog post published Wednesday.
Smith and Lance de la Rosa, Sam’s Club chief operating officer, said in a statement that stores will be given adequate time “to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols.”
The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents Walmart, Best Buy and other major chains, is asking governors to mandate masks across the nation.