Want to shop? Wear a mask!


CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK/AP) – Many businesses throughout the tri-state from major retailers to small mom and pops have begun requiring customers to wear face masks.

Walmart announced Wednesday, July 15, its plans to require customers to wear face coverings at all Walmart and Sam’s Club stores beginning Monday, July, 20.

Officials from the Bentonville, Arkansas based retailer issued a statement Wednesday saying they made the decision due to the spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“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,” the statement said.

Only a handful of major retailers, including teen clothing chain American Eagle Outfitters and Apple, has a mask mandate for customers for all of its stores. Costco Wholesale Club was one of the first major retailers to require face coverings for customers at all of its stores. The policy went into effect in early May.

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, said in a statement that it hopes Walmart’s move will be a “tipping point in this public health debate.”

Others said they believed Walmart’s status as the largest realtor in the United States would prompt other businesses to announce similar customer policies. It didn’t take long.

Hours after Walmart’s announcement, supermarket chain Kroger, based in Cincinnati, and department store Kohl’s, based in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, followed suit. Kohl’s policy will go into effect on Monday, while Kroger’s mask protocol will go into effect July 22.

“We are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country,” Kroger said in a statement.

Some businesses have already put such policies in place, including Starbucks who announced last week customers must wear face coverings when visiting its company-owned café locations in the U.S. Best Buy officials also decided to require masks. The policies at Starbucks and the big box electronic store went into effect Wednesday.

On The Dollar Tree’s “Response to the Coronavirus” page on its website, the retailer said it implemented several policies to help stop the spread. Such policies include plexiglass guards at cash registers, an Associate Health Screening Program, cleaning protocols and social distancing procedures. They also said they now require customers to wear masks while shopping.

“In accordance with guidelines from the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), we are requiring all Associates, customers and vendors to wear cloth face coverings when inside our stores. The Company is providing face masks to Associates as supplies become available,” the website said.

The Apple Store, AT&T and Verizon have issued statements asking customers to follow the CDC’s guidelines regarding face coverings.

The Apple Store issued a letter to its customers, which said in addition to, “stepping up in new ways to support the public health response,” the store would take additional steps to protect its customers while shopping.

“Face coverings will be required for all of our teams and customers, and we will provide them to customers who don’t bring their own,” the letter said. “Temperature checks will be conducted at the door, and posted health questions will screen for those with symptoms — like cough or fever — or who have had recent exposure to someone infected with COVID‑19. Throughout the day, we’re conducting enhanced deep cleanings that place special emphasis on all surfaces, display products, and highly trafficked areas.

According to the companies’ websites, Verizon now requires customers to wear, “cloth face coverings,” and AT&T will provide masks to any customers who do not have them when entering stores.

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