Walmart weighs COVID policing at stores for safe shopping

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
  • Follow author on
Walmart Image
Representational Image

US-based retail store chain Walmart will mandate its customers to wear face coverings at all of its and Sam’s Club stores along with placing health ambassadors to ensure compliance. 

The move will make it the largest retailer to introduce such a policy that has otherwise proven difficult to enforce without state and federal requirements.

The policy will only come into effect from Monday to provide ample time to spread the message across to its stores and customers. The company said that close to 65% of its more than 5,000 stores and clubs are already located in areas where there is some form of government order on face coverings.

The retailer will also proactively create the role of health ambassador at its Walmart stores and will station them near the entrance to remind customers without masks of its new requirements. These workers, who will be wearing black polo shirts, will receive special training to “help make the process as smooth as possible for customers.”

Walmart joins a growing list of retailers who have mandated masks throughout their chains. Best Buy, the nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer, announced earlier this week that it will mandate wearing masks for its customers at all of its stores.

Starbucks made it a requirement for its customers who visit the company-owned café locations in the U.S last week.

Last week, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents Walmart, Best Buy and other major chains, advertised a letter it sent to state governors to command store customers to wear face coverings. It said that the lack of clarity in rules around the country has created confusion for shoppers and that has led to conflict between customers and workers trying to enforce store rules.

Fewer than half of U.S. states require masks in public places as only a handful of major retailers including teen clothing chain American Eagle Outfitters has a mask mandate for customers for all of its stores. Costco Wholesale Club was one of the first major retailers to require face coverings for customers at all of its stores. The policy went into effect in early May.

US’s centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people cover their mouth and nose when around other people to help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

While Dacona Smith, COO at Walmart U.S. wrote “We know some people have differing opinions on this topic,” Lance de la Rosa, COO at Sam’s Club remarked that “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.”