As Americans struggle with what health officials say is one of the easiest ways of corralling the coronavirus, more and more major retailers are now telling shoppers they'll have to wear a face mask or consider other options like curbside pickup.
Walmart, Target and CVS are among those enacting policies requiring that customers join their employees in having to wear a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19, which is surging in many parts of the country and has killed more than 141,000 Americans.
The practice advocated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in wide use in other nations contending with the pandemic, but has proved particularly difficult to enforce in the U.S., where being told to wear a mask is viewed as an affront to personal freedom by some Americans.
Still, the country's struggle to contain the virus has more state and local governments enacting mask rules, and the National Retail Federation expressing hope that Walmart joining the effort would be a "tipping point in this public health debate" since Walmart is the country's largest retailer, with nearly 4,800 stores in the U.S. and more than $514 billion in total revenue last year.
The trade group urged other retailers to follow suit, citing health risks to retail workers from customers who do not wear masks. "Workers serving customers should not have to make a critical decision as to whether they should risk exposure to infection or lose their jobs because a minority of people refuse to wear masks in order to help stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus," the group said in a statement.
Here's a rundown of retailers telling customers to mask up or consider other means of shopping:
- Albertsons — The grocery company behind brands that also include Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's, Acme, Randalls, United Supermarkets and Star Market requires all shoppers to wear face masks as of July 21 "for their protection and for that of our associates."
- Aldi's — The no-frills grocer requires shoppers to wear face masks at its more than 1,900 stores as of July 27. Options for those unable or unwilling to wear masks include home deliveries and curbside pickup.
- Apple — The iPhone and iPad seller on May 17 said it would require face masks and temperature checks for those coming to its stores that are open.
- Best Buy — The policy, as of July 15. requires customers to wear face masks, with small children and those unable to wear a mask for health reasons exempt from the
- BJ's Wholesale Club — The retailer as of July 20 requires facial coverings that cover both the mouth and nose while shopping at its locations, with children under 2 exempt. Those who don't want to wear a mask can shop online.
- Circle K — The convenience store chain as of July 20 requires customers wear face masks in its stores across the country.
- Costco — The wholesale club retailer in early May mandated workers and at its 547 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, exempting small children and those with medical conditions that preclude wearing a mask.
- CVS —The pharmacy giant requires all customers wear face coverings at its 9,900-plus stores across the country as of July 20. "To be clear, we're not asking our store employees to play the role of enforcer," its COO stated.
- Dierbergs Markets — The Midwest grocery chain requires customers to wear masks as of July 20, excluding those under the age of nine and those with medical conditions that prevent them from covering their faces.
- GameStop — The retailer requires all customers to wear face coverings when shopping in all U.S. stores as of July 27. Customers without masks can shop online and use curbside pickup.
- Gap —The apparel company mandates masks as of August 1 at its North America Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Intermix and Janie and Jack stores. Small children and those with an underlying medical condition are exempt.
- Home Depot — The home-improvement retailer requires shoppers to wear masks or facial coverings inside its U.S. stores as of July 22. Social distancing "captains" and store associates will be available to provide masks to those shoppers who may not have one, the company said.
- JCPenney — The retailer requires customers wear face masks at its roughly 850 stores across the U.S. as of July 27.
- Kohl's — The retailer requires customers to wear a face covering in its stores as of July 20. Greeters at store entrances remind people of the requirement, which will not apply to those unable to wear a mask for medical reasons, the company said.
- Kroger — The largest grocery store chain in the U.S. requires masks in all of its locations as of July 22. Small children are exempt, and those who can't comply due to a medical condition should use alternatives such as face shields or use pickup or delivery services.
- Lowe's — The retailer requires shoppers to wear face masks at its more than 2,200 home-improvement and hardware stores across the U.S. as of July 20. It will provide masks for free, while supplies last.
- Macy's — The department-store chain requires shoppers wear face masks in its stores as of July 22.
- Meijer — In a policy as of July 20, Meijer requires face masks at all of its 253 super centers and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky.
- PetSmart — All must wear face masks in its roughly 1,650 stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, the provider of pet-supplies said in a recent update of its policy regarding the coronavirus.
- Piggly Wiggly — At least some of the more than 530 independently owned and operated Piggly Wiggly stores in 17 states reportedly started mandating shoppers wear masks three weeks ago.
- Publix — The supermarket chain requires all customers to wear face coverings at its 1,252 stores as of July 21, exempting small children and those with medical conditions who are unable to wear masks.
- Sam's Club — Like its parent company. Walmart, the wholesale club requires customers to wear masks at its 599 locations as July 20, with associates posted at entrances to remind shoppers of the requirement and offer complimentary masks.
- Schnuck Markets — The regional grocer requires masks as of July 20 at its 113 locations in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. Young children and those with medical conditions and unable to wear a face covering are excluded from the rule.
- Starbucks — The coffee giant not in place, customers without masks can order at a drive-thru, curbside pickup or have Starbucks delivered. at company-owned U.S. stores as of July 15. At cafes where a local government mandate is
- Target — Target requires all shoppers, except small children and those with underlying health conditions, to wear masks as of August 1. More than 80% of the chain's 1,800 stores .
- Trader Joe's — The supermarket chain requires customers to wear face masks, but like many exempts small children and those unable due to a medical condition, it said in a July 20 update.
- Walmart — The nation's largest private employer, with 1.5 million workers in the U.S., requires all shoppers to wear a face covering as of July 20 at its 4,753 U.S. stores. Walmart "health ambassadors" in black polo shirts are stationed at entrances to facilitate the process, the company said.
- Whole Foods Market —The upscale grocery requiries all in its stores to wear face masks as of July 20, with masks provided at entrances for those without them.
- Winn-Dixie — Winn-Dixie parent Southeastern Grocers requires shoppers to wear masks at its 550 stores in seven states as of July 27.