Thursday August 6th, 2020 12:48PM

Walmart to require customers to wear masks at all its stores

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart will require customers to wear face coverings at all of its namesake and Sam's Club stores, making it the largest retailer to introduce such a policy that has otherwise proven difficult to enforce without state and federal requirements.

The company said the policy will go into effect on Monday to allow time to inform stores and customers. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said that currently about 65% its more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is already some form of government mandate on face coverings.

The retailer also said it will create the role of health ambassador at its Walmart stores and will station them near the entrance to remind customers without masks of its new requirements. These workers, who will be wearing black polo shirts, will receive special training to “help make the process as smooth as possible for customers."

Walmart joins a growing list of retailers that have instituted mask mandates throughout their chains. Best Buy, the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer, announced Tuesday that it will have a mask mandate for its customers at all of its stores. Starbucks announced last week that customers who visit its company-owned café locations in the U.S. will be required to wear face coverings. Both policies were in effect Wednesday.

The moves come as new COVID-19 cases are spiking in many states, particularly Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. Retailers have been challenged with striking a balance between keeping shoppers safe while making them feel comfortable.

Last week, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents Walmart, Best Buy and other major chains, publicized a letter it sent to state governors to mandate store customers to wear face coverings. It said the hodgepodge of rules around the country have created confusion for shoppers and that has led to conflict between customers and workers trying to enforce store rules.

The National Governors Association said last week that its members are discussing the letter and others like it from different retail groups.

Social media is full of videos capturing clashes between those who are asked to wear masks, and employees who are under orders to make sure people wear them.

Fewer than half of U.S. states require masks in public places, according to the RILA. And only a handful of major retailers including teen clothing chain American Eagle Outfitters has a mask mandate for customers for all of its stores. Costco Wholesale Club was one of the first major retailers to require face coverings for customers at all of its stores. The policy went into effect in early May.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people cover their mouth and nose when around other people to help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

“We know some people have differing opinions on this topic,” wrote Dacona Smith, chief operating officer at Walmart U.S. and Lance de la Rosa, chief operating officer at Sam's Club in a blog posted Wednesday. “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.”


AP Retail Writer Joseph Pisani in New York contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Business
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Walmart to require customers to wear masks at all its stores
Walmart has become the latest major retailer to require customers to wear face coverings at all of its namesake and Sam’s Club stores
11:24AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Cheeky Corpse: Georgia detectives discover body is sex doll
It seemed like a major crime for Allenhurst, a town of less than 700 people in southeast Georgia
9:23AM ( 2 hours ago )
Trump looks to scale back environmental reviews for projects
President Donald Trump is expected to announce a new federal rule to speed up the environmental review process for proposed highways, gas pipelines and other major infrastructure
6:03AM ( 5 hours ago )
Local/State News
Judge halts execution amid claims inmate isn’t mentally fit
A U.S. judge has halted the execution of a federal death row inmate whose lawyers argue suffers from dementia
11:39AM ( 3 minutes ago )
Fire hits Museum Kampa in Prague, smoke reaches exhibitions
Prague officials say a fire broke out at a modern art museum in the heart of the Czech capital
11:25AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Virus resurgence forces countries to reimpose restrictions
Countries around the world are reimposing lockdowns and implementing new health restrictions at their borders in an effort to curb a resurgence of the coronavirus before it spins even further out of control
11:22AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Body camera footage of Floyd arrest could show more of story
Video from the body cameras of two officers charged in the death of George Floyd is being made available for public viewing by appointment, but a judge has declined to allow news organizations to publish the footage for wider distribution
10:53AM ( 48 minutes ago )
Floyd family to announce lawsuit against Minneapolis
Attorneys for George Floyd’s family plan to announce a lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Minneapolis and the police officers who are charged in his death
10:52AM ( 49 minutes ago )
Search for Tulsa massacre victims resumes, no remains yet
A third day of excavation has begun at a Tulsa cemetery for remains of victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre with no human remains yet found and the search area being expanded
10:40AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Biden's Texas ad signals opportunity in GOP stronghold
Joe Biden is targeting Texas with a modest advertising investment that raises new questions about President Donald Trump’s vulnerability in the longtime Republican stronghold as coronavirus infections explode
5:43AM ( 5 hours ago )
Rules once lifted are reimposed to try to curb new outbreaks
Virus restrictions once lifted are being reimposed, shutting businesses and curbing people’s social lives as communities try to curb a disease resurgence before it spins out of control
4:48AM ( 6 hours ago )
Asia Today: Rules return in Hong Kong, India, ease in China
Renewed restrictions have taken effect in Hong Kong as it battles a virus resurgence
4:43AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online National News
With elective procedures delayed, UnitedHealth profit spikes
The nation’s largest health insurer more than doubled its profit in the second quarter, as COVID-19 shutdowns kept patients out of doctor’s offices and off operating tables
11:00AM ( 41 minutes ago )
US to hit Huawei employees with visa bans for rights abuses
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he will imposing travel bans on employees of the Chinese technology giant Huawei and other companies the U.S. determines are assisting authoritarian governments in cracking down on human rights
10:59AM ( 42 minutes ago )
US toughens stance against 2 Russian gas pipelines to Europe
The Trump administration is hardening its efforts to prevent the completion of new German-Russian and Turkish-Russian natural-gas pipelines by warning all companies involved in the project they'll be subject to U.S. sanctions
10:50AM ( 51 minutes ago )
AP Business
Trump looks to scale back environmental reviews for projects
President Donald Trump is expected to announce a new federal rule to speed up the environmental review process for proposed highways, gas pipelines and other major infrastructure
6:03AM ( 5 hours ago )
Citing health, Banks County Commission chairman announces Aug. 31 resignation
With his voice breaking several times as emotion overcame him, Banks County Commission Chairman Jimmy Hooper announced he will resign his position Aug. 31.
9:34PM ( 14 hours ago )
Gainesville Planning Board recommends annexations and rezonings needed for new middle school
The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board unanimously recommended approval of a pair of requests made by the Gainesville City Board of Education Tuesday evening, paving the way for a much-needed second middle school for the district.
8:15PM ( 15 hours ago )
First COVID-19 vaccine tested in US poised for final testing
Early-stage testing showed the first COVID-19 vaccine tested in the U.S. revved up people’s immune systems the way scientists had hoped
7:25PM ( 16 hours ago )
Amid surge in COVID-19 cases, changes announced at NGMC Gainesville
Some changes at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville were announced Wednesday as officials adjust their operations following the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
7:15PM ( 16 hours ago )