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Target and CVS to require face masks for customers

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Target and CVS have joined a list of the nation's largest retailers that will require customers to wear masks as cases of COVID-19 spike.

Target will require all shoppers, except small children and those with underlying health conditions, to wear masks starting August 1. More than 80% of the chain's 1,800 stores already require customers to wear masks due to local and state regulations.

CVS will require masks starting July 20, the company said in a statement. It noted, however, that it was "not asking our store employees to play the role of enforcer. What we are asking is that customers help protect themselves and those around them by listening to the experts and heeding the call to wear a face covering," the drugstore chain said.

Prior to this week, retailers have hesitated to make masks mandatory for customers out of fear of angering some people over what, even in the pandemic, has become a political issue.

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It was difficult to enforce such rules even in states that mandate face masks. However, the recent surge of new virus cases — particularly in Florida, California, Texas and Arizona — has left stores with no choice, retail experts say.

The nation's largest retailer, Walmart, announced this week that masks would be required in all stores starting Monday. Starbucks, Best Buy, Kohl's and Kroger have also put mandatory face shield rules in place.

Retailers have been forced to fill a role that many see as the responsibility of local, state and federal agencies. Yet only about half of the U.S. states require masks in public places.

In recent days, Kentucky, Michigan, Alabama and Arkansas have passed statewide mandates.

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