Walmart said it will require shoppers at its roughly 5,400 Walmart and Sam's Club locations to wear masks starting on July 20. The nation's largest retailer called shoppers wearing masks a "simple step" that can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
"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," Walmart U.S. Chief Operating Officer Dacona Smith said in a company blog post explaining the move.
The company noted that mask laws already are in effect in geographical regions where 65% of its U.S. stores are located. Creating a uniform mask rule for its stores will "help bring consistency across stores and clubs," Smith added.
While other retailers have mandated masks in their stores — including Starbucks and Costco — Walmart is by far the largest so far that's implemented such a rule.
Walmart said it will place "health ambassadors" at its stores' entrances to check whether customers are wearing masks.
"The ambassadors, identifiable by their black polo shirt, will work with customers who show up at a store without a face covering to try and find a solution," Smith said.
Walmart has almost 4,800 U.S. locations and about 600 Sam's Clubs.