All Walmarts, City Markets to require masks starting next week
CRAIG — In announcements within several hours of each other, Walmart and Kroger, City Market’s parent company, released statements that masks will be required at their stores starting next week.
Citing the increase in cases of COVID-19, Walmart announced that all stores will begin to require shoppers to wear a face covering on Monday, July 20. Kroger said their requirement will take effect on Wednesday, July 22.
According to Dacona Smith, Walmart’s chief operating officer, the decision was made to “help bring consistency across stores.” Smith’s statement also cited that 65% of the more than 5,000 stores in the U.S. were already in areas where masks were required.
Walmart will become the largest company to impose such restrictions and joins other retailers like Costco, Best Buy and Apple Inc. to require the face coverings.
Smith said that Walmart is creating the position of “Health Ambassador,” and that associate will be stationed in front of the store to offer free masks to customers not wearing one. The associates responsible for the duty will: “receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers. The ambassadors, identifiable by their black polo shirts, will work with customers who show up at a store without a face covering to try and find a solution. We are currently considering different solutions for customers when this requirement takes effect.”
Both chains cited the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest stance that face coverings help decrease the spread of COVID-19 with Smith stating, “Because the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected, it’s critically important for everyone to wear a face covering in public and social distance.”
Kroger’s statement was: “As an employer, grocery provider and community partner, we have a responsibility to help keep our associates, customers and communities safe. … We are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country.”
Smith said that Walmart recognizes that, “It may not be possible for everyone to wear a face covering. Our associates will be trained on those exceptions to help reduce friction for the shopper and make the process as easy as possible for everyone.”
Smith also said that it has been the store’s experience that in states with mask mandates “virtually everyone” has been complying with with the requirement.
Kroger acknowledged that there might be some exceptions.
“We respect and acknowledge that some customers, due to medical reasons, may not be able to wear a mask (small children are exempt),” the statement said. “We encourage those customers to consider an alternative option like a face shield or facial covering.”
According to masks4all.com, 29 states now require masks to be worn in public places while 18 other states have partial requirements. Two states, South Dakota and Iowa, do not have any mask requirements. Arkansas, Walmart’s home state, does not require masks for customers in retail stores.
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