Walmart will require all of its customers in all of its U.S. stores to wear masks beginning July 20, CNN Business reported on Wednesday. In a statement, Walmart US chief operating officer Dacona Smith and Sam's Club chief operating officer Lance De La Rosa noted that the retail giants want to bring "consistency" to the mask policy. Across the country, about 65 percent of the stores' locations are in jurisdictions where local governments already require face masks in public, so the retail chain is expanding that policy to all stores.
"To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20."The executives noted that they made the announcement a few days early so customers and employees will have time to prepare.
"This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols," the executives said.
Currently, there is no nationwide, federal mandate requiring masks in all 50 states. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidelines that recommend that everyone wear a mask or face covering when in public, which are not backed up by the force of law.
Several major U.S. chains have issued across-the-board requirements compelling employees and customers to wear masks, including Starbucks, Best Buy and Costco.
However, retailers and grocery stores have been hesitant to issue mask mandates, partly out of fear of antagonizing customers who refuse to wear them, and partly out of fear of having to put employees into the awkward position of having to enforce mask rules.
In some cases, the enforcement of mask rules has turned violent. For example, in Michigan, a security guard at a Family Dollar store was shot and killed in May after he told a customer to wear a mask. Similarly, as reported by The Inquisitr, in Michigan this week, a man was stabbed by another man following a dispute about wearing masks.
Walmart, for its part, hopes to get out in front of any potential conflict by appointing and training "health ambassadors" who will stand at the stores' entrances and remind customers of the mask requirements.
"Our ambassadors will receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers. 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," the company said.