Walmart announced Wednesday that all customers at Walmart and Sam’s Club stores will be mandated to wear coronavirus masks effective Monday, July 20. The mask mandate will be enforced by black-shirt wearing “Health Ambassadors.” The nation’s largest retailer said the mandate is to bring “consistency” to store policy as about 65% of its stores are in areas under government mask orders.
The Walmart mandate follows the Tuesday announcement by electronics retailer Best Buy of a mask mandate effective today, July 15. Last week Starbucks issued a mask mandate also effective July 15. Sam’s Club competitor Costco has had a mask mandate for since early May, BJ’s Wholesale Club also recently announced a mask mandate starting July 20.
Walmart photos accompanying statement shows customers wearing masks.
The Health Ambassadors at Walmart stores will “will work with customers who show up at a store without a face covering to try and find a solution.” At Sam’s Club, the Health Ambassadors will provide a free mask to members without one. Members can also buy masks in the club.
Walmart says staff will be trained on exceptions to the mask rule for those who may not be able to wear one, but the statement does not state what the exceptions are.
Text of Walmart statement:
A Simple Step to Help Keep You Safe: Walmart and Sam’s Club Require Shoppers to Wear Face Coverings
July 15, 2020
By Dacona Smith, Chief Operating Officer, Walmart U.S., and Lance de la Rosa, Chief Operating Officer, Sam’s Club
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.
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. Currently about 65 percent of our more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings. To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting 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.
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.
In addition to posting clear signage at the front of our 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. 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. We are 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.
At Sam’s Clubs, associates at the entrance will follow the same process with members, politely reminding them of our requirement to wear a face covering when shopping with us. Complimentary masks will be provided if the member doesn’t have one. Or members can purchase masks in the club.
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.
As we have seen in states and municipalities with mask mandates, virtually everyone either brings a mask or readily complies with the requirement, and we anticipate that to happen in other areas as well.
We know some people have differing opinions on this topic. 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. We appreciate the understanding and cooperation of our customers and members in wearing face coverings to protect their safety and the safety of our associates.