The nation’s largest retailers are now requiring what some states and cities won’t: the use of face masks.
Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens and Kroger are the biggest to announce they will soon mandate masks at stores nationwide joining the list of businesses with face covering requirements growing as COVID-19 cases rise. The coronavirus causes the disease COVID-19.
Nearly 40 states now require masks in public places with Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado adding mandates and Ohio requiring masks in a dozen counties. One state went in the opposite direction this week whenGeorgia Gov. Brian Kemp suspended all local government mask orders Wednesday.
Individual businesses can choose to institute further restrictions and the National Retail Federation is encouraging retailers to set nationwide mask policies to protect shoppers and employees.
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Retailers requiring masks isn’t new – especially in areas with local orders – but few businesses have embraced mandates before this month.
Shoppers have been required to wear masks to enter Costco and Apple stores across the nation since early May. Starbucks kicked off the new mask announcements last week and started requiring masks Wednesday along with Best Buy and Panera Bread locations nationwide.
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In a recent Harris Poll survey about businesses mandating masks found 76% of Americans want businesses to “exact and enforce” their own mandatory policies, with 80% saying they are more likely to do business with a company if they require all customers and employees to wear a face mask during the pandemic.
Marc Perrone, president of America’s largest food and retail union, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 1.3 million workers, said the companies’ actions are “not nearly enough to turn the tide as COVID-19.”
“Across the country, every governor and mayor must step up and make masks mandatory at all supermarkets and retail stores,” Perrone said in a statement. “Without universal mask mandates that are fully enforced nationwide, hundreds of thousands of Americans will continue to get sick and die. We cannot wait any longer.”
This week’s announcement starting rolling out a day after Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said if the American public were to embrace masking now the pandemic could be brought to heel in less than two months.
“If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think over the next 4-6-8 weeks, I really think we can bring this under control,” he said in an interview Tuesday with the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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Mask mandates coming to these stores
Here’s when mask requirements start:
Aldi: Starts Monday, July 27.
BJ’s Wholesale Club: Starts Monday, July 20.
CVS: Starts Monday, July 20.
Home Depot: Starts Wednesday, July 22.
Kohl’s: Starts Monday, July 20.
Kroger: Starts Wednesday, July 22. (The grocer operates nearly 2,800 stores with several regional supermarket chains in 35 states, including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, Ralphs, Mariano’s, Fry’s, Smith’s, King Soopers, QFC and others.)