No longer a choice: Walmart and City Market to require masks starting Friday, following Governor’s order
Grocery shopping and other retail needs will now come with a mask in Moffat County today. In announcements within several hours of each other Wednesday,Walmart and Kroger, City Market’s parent company, released statements that masks will be required at their stores starting next week. However, Gov. Jared Polis made masks mandatory Thursday across the state, with the latest health order going into effect today.
Citing the increase in cases of COVID-19, Walmart announced that all stores would begin require shoppers to wear a face covering on Monday, July 20. Kroger said their requirement would take effect on Wednesday, July 22. Following the announcement by Polis on Thursday, those mask mandates go into effect today.
According to Dacona Smith, Chief Operating Officer, the decision was made to “help bring consistency across stores.” Smith’s statement also cited that 65 percent of the more than 5,000 stores in the United States were already in areas where masks were required.
Craig resident Clara Simones was shopping in a mask at Walmart on Wednesday. She said that her rule is that any store where the employees wear masks, she wears one.
“I feel that it they are wearing masks, it’s a courtesy to the employees that I wear one too,” she said. When asked about the new policies she said: “I could see that coming. It’s going to be a new way of life for a while.”
Craig resident Lauren Samuelson was at Walmart without a mask but she said she would follow along with the new requirements. “It doesn’t sound like we have a choice if both stores are going to require it. That’s our only option for groceries.” she said.
Walmart will become the largest company to impose such restrictions and joins other retailers like Costco, Best Buy and Apple Inc. to require the face coverings.
Smith said that Walmart is creating the position of “Health Ambassador” and that associate will be stationed in front of the store to offer free masks to customers not wearing one. The associates responsible for the duty will: “receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers. 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.”
Both chains cited the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest stance that face coverings help decrease the spread of COVID with Smith stating, “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.”
Kroger’s statement was: “As an employer, grocery provider and community partner, we have a responsibility to help keep our associates, customers and communities safe…we are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country.”
Smith said that Walmart recognizes that: “It may not be possible for everyone to wear a face covering. 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.”
Smith also said that it has been the store’s experience that in states with mask mandates “virtually everyone” has been complying with the requirement.
Kroger acknowledged that there might be some exceptions.
“We respect and acknowledge that some customers, due to medical reasons, may not be able to wear a mask (small children are exempt),” the statement said. “We encourage those customers to consider an alternative option like a face shield or facial covering.”
According to masks4all.com, 29 states now require masks to be worn in public places while 18 other states have partial requirements. Two states, South Dakota and Iowa, do not have any mask requirements. Arkansas, Walmart’s home state, does not require masks for customers in retail stores.
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