Walmart announced that all of its U.S. locations will adopt mandatory mask requirements beginning next week.
“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 wrote in an official blog post Wednesday. “This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols.” They continued:
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. According to the CDC, face coverings help decrease the spread of COVID-19, and 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.
To ensure the new policy is followed, Walmart is reducing to a single point of entry at all locations, under the watchful eye of company “health ambassadors.” These employees “will receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers,” they 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.”
Walmart also acknowledged that there will be special cases in which an exception may be necessary. “We know it may not be possible for everyone to wear a face covering,” they said. “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.”
Roughly 65 percent of the megastore’s thousands of locations are already operating under local mandates for personal protective equipment (PPE). Walmart will now join companies including Starbucks and Best Buy, which already have company-wide PPE guidelines in place for both employees and customers.
To date, more than 3.3 million Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus, and approximately 130,000 have died. While there is no federal order enforcing the use of a mask in public spaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised everyone to “wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public” in order to “protect other people.”