All Walmart and Sam’s Club stores will require face coverings starting Monday, July 20.
The new policy was announced Wednesday by Dacona Smith, chief operating officer of Walmart U.S., and Lance de la Rosa, chief operating officer of Sam’s Club.
They said about 65 percent of their more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings. They said the number and types of face mask mandates has spiked across the country along with the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20,” Smith and de la Rosa said in a press release published online. “This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage, and train associates on the new protocols.”
Smith and de la Rosa said Walmart and Sam’s Club are not the first businesses to require face coverings, but they know that masks are a simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in their stores.
“According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 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,” Smith and de la Rosa said.
Walmart will have signs at the front of its stores, and the company has created a new position, health ambassador. They will be stationed near entrances to remind people without a mask of the new requirements.
“Our ambassadors will receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers,” the press release said. “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 the new process, all stores will have a single entrance, the press release said.
At Sam’s Clubs, associates at the entrance will follow the same process with members, politely reminding them of the requirement to wear a face covering when shopping with at a store, the release said. 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,” the press release said. “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.”
Smith and de la Rosa said they recognize the some people might have differing opinions.
“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,” the two said. “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.”