Walmart, Sam’s Club to require shoppers to wear face coverings

U.S.

FILE – In this March 31, 2020 file photo, a woman pulls groceries from a cart to her vehicle outside of a Walmart store in Pearl, Miss. Walmart will require customers to wear face coverings at all of its namesake and Sam’s Club stores. The company said the policy will go into effect on Monday, July 20, 2020 to allow time to inform stores and customers. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (News Nation/AP/KNWA) — Walmart and Sam’s Club will begin requiring all shoppers to wear face coverings in stores starting on Monday.

The Bentonville-based retailer said this will give the company time to inform customers and members of the change, post signage, and train employees on the new protocols.

“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,” Walmart said in a release on Wednesday.

Along with the new mask mandate, Walmart has created the new role of “Health Ambassador” — employees who will be stationed near store entrances to remind customers of the rule.

At Sam’s Club, employees at entrances will follow the same process with members. Complimentary masks will be provided if the member does not have one, or they can be purchased inside.

“We know 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,” Walmart said in its announcement.

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.

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 varying rules around the country have created confusion for shoppers and that has led to conflict between customers and workers trying to enforce store rules.

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