FARGO — Starting next week, shoppers will be required to wear a face mask when inside Walmart. The nation’s largest retail chain announced that the face mask requirement will go into effect on July 20 at all U.S. Walmart and Sam’s Club locations.

On its website, Walmart noted that about 65% of its more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not issued a federal mandate on mask wearing, it has said everyone, “should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public,” and that “face coverings are meant to protect other people.”

Many retailers have struggled with whether to require or recommend face coverings, in part because some customers have vehemently objected to it infringing on their freedom.

Because of that, many retailers have urged local and state governments to mandate the wearing of face masks. In an interview with NPR, Lindsay Wiley, the director of the Health Law and Policy Program at American University, says a governmental mandate would take pressure off the business.

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“I think a lot of business owners would like to be able to point to the government and say, ‘If you don't like our rules, take it up with the mayor,’ instead of being positioned as requiring the masks themselves,” Wiley said.

Walmart has said to ease any potential conflict, they are placing special "health ambassadors" at its doors.

How would a face mask requirement affect your decision as to where to shop?

Thank you for voting!

  • It would make me less likely to shop there.

    31%

  • It would make me more likely to shop there.

    45%

  • It would not affect my shopping habits and decisions.

    24%

“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,” Dacona Smith, Chief Operating Officer, Walmart U.S., and Lance de la Rosa, Chief Operating Officer, Sam’s Club wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

Will Walmart’s new policy influence other retailers to require masks? Currently, the overwhelming majority of retailers locally and nationwide have adopted new policies to protect customers and employees including:

  • Added hours for cleaning

  • Making anti-bacterial wipes available near cart areas

  • Dedicated hours for vulnerable customers to shop

  • Encouraging social distancing among customers

  • Monitoring how many customers can be in the store simultaneously

  • Mask wearing by employees

  • Banning the use of reusable shopping bags

  • Making store aisles one-way

But most have fallen short of mandating mask-wearing for customers. Here is the most up-to-date information on face covering policies for some local and national retailers.

Instacart shopper Emily Hultin checks out with Holly Allen on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at the Osgood Hornbacher's site in south Fargo.Forum file photo
Instacart shopper Emily Hultin checks out with Holly Allen on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at the Osgood Hornbacher's site in south Fargo.Forum file photo

Customer face-covering policies for some local and national retailers

Aldi - On April 24, Aldi required employees to wear face-coverings and “encouraged” customers to do so as well.

Best Buy - The Minnesota-based electronics giant originally “encouraged” mask-wearing, but is now mandating it starting July 15.

Costco - Costco was the earliest big box retailer to require the wearing of face masks in its stores when it instituted the requirement in May of 2020

CVS - Customers will be required to wear a mask starting July 20.

Fleet Farm - There is no mask-wearing policy in place on the Fleet Farm website

Home Depot - Home Depot provides and requires employees to wear face-coverings, and effective Wednesday, July 22, will require customers to do the same.

Hornbacher’s/Cashwise Grocery Stores - Hornbacher’s and Cashwise are both operated by Coborns, Inc., which began it’s “Wear a Mask” Campaign in April. Employees are required to wear face coverings and customers are encouraged to as well. Coborn’s vice president of marketing Dennis Host says, “The more the public embraces the recommendation, the more we can help mitigate the widespread community transmission of the virus.”

Kohl's - Kohl's will require customers to wear masks starting Monday, July 20.

Lowe’s - Lowe’s requires employees to wear face-coverings while working in the store or at a customer’s home. But there is no requirement in place for customers.

Menards - All shoppers and workers are required to wear masks while shopping at Menard’s.

Scheels - Scheels requires employees to wear face-coverings while working in the store or at a customer’s home. But there is no requirement in place for customers.

Target - Starting August 1st, Target will require customers to wear masks. Exclusions include those with medical conditions and young children.

Walmart/Sam’s Club - Starting July 20, guests will be required to wear masks while shopping at Walmart/Sam’s Club stores in the United States.

West Acres - West Acres “strongly encourages” mask-wearing for anyone visiting the mall. All West Acres team members are required to wear masks. Stores within the mall have differing policies regarding mask usage. Some stores will not allow shoppers in without a mask.