BENTONVILLE, Ar. – Walmart will require customers at its U.S. stores to wear masks beginning next week.
“From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our focus and priority has been and continues to be on the health and safety of our associates, members and customers,” said Walmart COO Dacona Smith in a release issued Wednesday.
“As the number of confirmed cases has spiked in communities across the country recently, so too have the number and types of face covering mandates being implemented.”
About 65 percent of Walmart’s 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings.
Walmart will begin enforcing the new rule on Monday, July 20.
“This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols,” said Smith.
“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.
“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,” said Smith.
In addition to posting clear signage at the front of its stores, Walmart has created the role of Health Ambassador and will station them near the entrance to remind those without a mask of our new requirements.
“Our ambassadors will receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers,” said Smith.
Smith said 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.
The store is currently considering “different solutions” for customers when this requirement takes effect on July 20.
To help ensure consistency with this new process, all stores will have a single entrance.
“We know it may not be possible for everyone to wear a face covering,” said Smith. “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.”
At Sam’s Clubs, associates at the entrance will follow the same process with members. Complimentary masks will be provided if the member doesn’t have one.
“We know some people have differing opinions on this topic,” said Smith. “We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials like the CDC.”