- Face Masks Required at 10 Biggest Chains, Including Walmart
- Home Depot
- Apple Store
- Best Buy
- TJX Companies
- Dollar General
- Dollar Tree
- Stores want shoppers to wear masks. But some customers refuse
- 'Not the mask police'
- Shifting guidelines
- Handling Retail Customers Who Refuse to Wear a Mask
- The Founding Fathers Did Not Include Protections for Customers
- “Public Accommodations” under Title III of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Preventing Workplace Violence
- Face mask requirements: Can stores make you wear a mask? Do kids have to wear masks?
- Can stores and restaurants require masks?
- What stores require masks at all locations?
- Do ride-shares require masks?
- What does the CDC say about face coverings?
- Can masks cause low oxygen levels?
- Face-mask-exempt cards? Not real
- Are people with disabilities required to wear masks?
- Should kids wear masks?
Face Masks Required at 10 Biggest Chains, Including Walmart
NRF rank: 1
U.S. stores: 5,355 (including Sam’s Club)
The nation’s biggest retailer started requiring customers to wear masks at all Walmart and Sam's Club stores on July 20.
The rule represents “a simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities,” the company said in announcing the policy on July 15.
Employees will be stationed at store entrances to remind customers of the requirement and work with those who arrive without a mask.
NRF rank: 2
U.S. stores: 564
The e-commerce giant instituted a mask requirement on July 20 at its Whole Foods Market supermarkets and Amazon Books, Amazon 4-Star and other branded brick-and-mortar outlets.
NRF rank: 3
U.S. stores: 3,003
The country's largest supermarket chain put a mask mandate in place on July 22. “We are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country,” the company said in a July 15 statement.
NRF rank: 4
U.S. stores: 542
The members-only warehouse club was the first major national retailer to implement a face-mask requirement, doing so on May 4. Costco updated the policy on Nov. 10, mandating that customers who could not wear a mask due to a medical condition — who were previously exempt from the face-covering rule — use a face shield instead. The new policy took effect Nov. 16.
NRF rank: 5
U.S. stores: 9,168
Citing guidance from the CDC and other public health officials, the nation’s biggest drugstore chain announced July 16 that it is “expanding requirements for customers to wear face covers while in stores across all Walgreens locations chainwide.” The policy took effect July 20.
NRF rank: 6
U.S. stores: 1,973
As of July 22, customers must wear face coverings at all Home Depot stores. “Social distancing captains and store associates will be available to provide masks to those shoppers who may not have one,” the company said in announcing the change on July 17.
NRF rank: 7
U.S. stores: 9,909
CVS started requiring masks in all stores on July 20. “We’re not asking our store employees to play the role of enforcer,” Jon Roberts, the pharmacy chain's chief operating officer, said in a July 16 statement. “What we are asking is that customers help protect themselves and those around them by listening to the experts and heeding the call to wear a face covering.”
NRF rank: 8
U.S. stores: 1,868
“Starting August 1, we’re requiring guests to wear masks or face coverings in all of our stores, except for those with underlying medical conditions and young children,” the company said in a July 16 update to its coronavirus response page. Stores will provide disposable masks to shoppers who arrive without one.
NRF rank: 9
U.S. stores: 1,727
The home improvement chain’s mask mandate took effect July 20. “For the safety of everyone in our stores, we ask that customers wear masks, and to make this new standard less restrictive, we will make masks available to those who need them,” CEO Marvin Ellison said in a July 17 statement.
NRF rank: 10
U.S. stores: 2,258
“Effective July 21, 2020, we will require customers across all of our locations to wear face coverings when shopping with us, for their protection and for that of our associates,” the parent company of Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel Osco and other grocery chains announced July 16 on its corporate website.
NRF rank: 11
U.S. stores: 271
“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 tech retailer announced on May 17 as it was reopening its stores.
NRF rank: 13
U.S. stores: 13,846
Starting Aug. 1, customers are required “to wear face coverings when entering our U.S. restaurants,” the company said in a July 24 statement. The fast-food giant said it will aim to “quickly find solutions” when patrons are unable or unwilling to wear a mask and will “put in place additional procedures to take care of them in a friendly, expedited way.”
NRF rank: 14
U.S. stores: 995
“Customers and employees are required to wear a face covering. We will supply a face covering if you don’t have one,” the electronics retailer states in an online rundown of its in-store safety measures. The mandate was announced July 14 and implemented the following day.
NRF rank: 15
U.S. stores: 1,479
“Beginning July 21, customers are required to use face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside any Publix store,” the supermarket chain said in a message posted July 16 to its web page on coronavirus shopping protocols. “This new mandate is encouraged by the CDC for most individuals.”
NRF rank: 16
U.S. stores: 3,247
TJX is the parent of T.J.Maxx and Marshalls, as well as outdoor store Sierra and home furnishings chain HomeGoods. Identical customer information pages on each brand’s website state, “In all of our U.S. stores, customers are required to wear face coverings.” The mandate was implemented on July 30.
NRF rank: 17
U.S. stores: 2,586
The discount grocery chain updated its COVID-19 page July 17 to announce a shift from requesting to requiring that shoppers wear face coverings, as “an enhanced safety measure intended to help limit the spread of COVID-19.” The new policy took effect July 27.
NRF rank: 18
U.S. stores: 16,368
“To enhance social distancing and cleaning protocols, and except as may be otherwise required by law, Dollar General currently requires all employees, vendors and customers to wear facial coverings in stores, distribution centers and corporate offices,” the discount chain said in an Aug. 9 update on its COVID-19 response.
NRF rank: 19
U.S. stores: 333
In a June 30 update of a press statement, the Texas grocery chain said that 85 percent of its stores are located in communities that have implemented local mask requirements, adding, “In areas that do not have a local ordinance in place, H-E-B stores will require the use of masks or facial coverings,” with exceptions for children and people with health issues that preclude this practice.
NRF rank: 20
U.S. stores: 780
Macy’s shoppers are required to wear masks as of July 22. The department store chain said in a July 17 statement that employees will not be required to enforce the policy.
NRF rank: 21
U.S. stores: 15,059
The discount retailer, which also operates the Family Dollar chain, first instituted a mask mandate on July 8, switched later that month to requesting that shoppers cover their faces, then reinstated the requirement in early August.
NRF rank: 22
U.S. stores: 1,600-plus
“Customers are required to wear cloth face coverings” at Verizon’s retail locations, according to the company’s web page on store operations.
NRF rank: 24
U.S. stores: 1,171
The department store made face-covering mandatory on July 20. With government mask orders already applying to about 70 percent of its locations, “we’ve made the decision to take a consistent approach across our entire store fleet,” the company said in a July 15 announcement.
NRF rank: 26
U.S. stores: 15,041
The coffee chain’s mask mandate took effect July 15.
“We respectfully require customers follow social distancing and safety protocols recommended by public health officials, including wearing a facial covering when visiting our stores,” Starbucks states on its COVID-19 information page. The company says employees “have the right and responsibility to refuse service to customers who are not wearing facial coverings.”
Stores want shoppers to wear masks. But some customers refuse
New York (CNN Business)A handful of states and cities have mandated that shoppers wear coverings in grocery stores and other public places as they try to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
But retailers are struggling with how to convince their customers to follow the requirements. Major chains have yet to ban those who don't put on masks, even as labor advocates push for more protections for frontline workers.
Stores are reluctant to antagonize shoppers by turning them away.
Wegmans, for example, wants to minimize “the lihood of conflicts in our stores” and will “not put our people in the position of having to deny entry to our stores,” even in states where masks in public settings are required, a representative said.
At Stop & Shop, workers are telling customers who don't wear masks in the states where they are required to “expedite their shopping trip, and then requesting that they wear a mask next time,” a spokesperson said.
However, anxious workers and their allies are calling for policies ordering customers to wear masks or face coverings to protect them and other shoppers from the virus. The virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity, even if people do not display symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Keeping grocery stores safe for both customers and workers means everyone must wear masks,” said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. “We are urging both elected leaders and grocery chains to make masks mandatory for both customers and workers.”
'Not the mask police'
Decisions around customers wearing masks are playing out against the backdrop of more grocery and retail workers getting sick from the virus and dying; some states planning to reopen retail stores that have been shuttered during the crisis; and mixed signals from public officials.
More than 60% of Americans report that they have worn a mask on their face outside of their homes, Gallup said Friday.
Several smaller grocers have started requiring that all their customers wear masks inside stores, yet larger chains Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT), Whole Foods, CVS (CVS) and others have stopped short of this step.
“It can be a bit more difficult to enforce this requirement in parts of the country where it's not mandatory,” said a Walmart spokesperson. The company wants to “avoid situations that may create a confrontation” with workers.
Some grocery workers believe that their companies' failure to make shoppers wear a mask puts them at risk.
“They allow the customers to freely walk around the store without masks,” said Dionna Richardson, a cashier at Ralph's grocery store in Los Angeles and a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Los Angeles has required that customers wear a mask or covering in stores, but Richardson said Ralph's was not enforcing the regulation. Ralphs is owned by Kroger (KR).
Richardson said she asked a customer to wear a mask, but was reprimanded by her store leader. “I was told that it was none of my business and that I was not the mask police.”
A representative for Ralph's did not comment on Richardson's account, but said Ralph's requires customers to cover their faces and states its policy on signs posted on the front door of all stores.
“If a customer attempts to enter our store without a face covering, they are directed back to their vehicle to retrieve their face covering or something suitable to cover their mouth and nose,” the representative said. “A store leader may also provide a face mask for the customer to use, where available, for free.”
New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Hawaii, Miami, Austin, Washington, DC, and others have recently ordered shoppers to wear masks or face coverings in stores.
Their requirements differ, however, and most do not come with a penalty for either shoppers or stores.
Nellie Brown, director of workplace health and safety programs at Cornell University's Institute of Labor Relations, said if a state has made requirements on masks, “that would take precedence.” However, “if a state were silent on the issue, the store could make its own requirements.”
She believes a “mask requirement of customers would protect employees, as well as other customers.”
Instead of forcing customers to wear masks, big grocers and retailers have taken safety steps such as screening workers' temperatures, installing acrylic glass dividers at cash registers, adding social distancing signs and markers, and enforcing customer capacity limits.
But a handful of smaller grocers around the country are prohibiting customers from shopping without a mask, even where it's not required, including Nugget Market, a chain of 15 stores in California.
“I know this might upset a few of you and I apologize in advance, but this will offer all of us the most protection!” CEO Eric Stille said in a statement on April 8. “Extreme times call for extreme measures and I feel this is what's best to help curb the spread of the virus and protect us all.”
In Memphis, Cordelia's Market is requiring customers to wear masks.
“We have a fair amount of not only customers, but also elderly employees,” said grocery manager Angelina Mazzanti. “We know that we're going to have some pushback from customers.” Customers can buy a mask or bandana at the store if they don't have one, she added.
Smart & Final, a chain of more than 300 stores in California, is also doing this.
“If a customer doesn't have a mask or face covering, we politely ask them to return with one or they can purchase one in our store,” a spokesperson said.
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Handling Retail Customers Who Refuse to Wear a Mask
Many jurisdictions require individuals to wear face coverings in public spaces, including in retail businesses, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But some customers have been refusing to comply. How should a retail business respond to a customer refusing to wear a mask, and what should it do to minimize the chances of hostile incidents occurring?
The Founding Fathers Did Not Include Protections for Customers
Customers and employees have no constitutional free speech rights in a private business or workplace. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects an individual’s right to free speech from infringement by the U.S. Government — not a private business. Similarly, most state constitutions do not create such rights.
“Public Accommodations” under Title III of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Title III of the ADA governs the accommodation requirements for guests with disabilities at facilities deemed places of “public accommodation.
” Generally, a public accommodation is an entity that provides services to the public, such as lodging, dining, shopping, or medical services.
Usually, this takes the form of allowing functional access to the public accommodation (i.e., ramps, elevators, sufficiently wide aisles, and so on).
Title III mandates that public accommodations cannot deny equal enjoyment of goods and services to individuals with disabilities. If a customer has a medical or disability-related condition that may require an accommodation, then the entity must consider the reasonable accommodation it can offer the customer.
A customer must advise the business they need an accommodation if it is not obvious.
While an employer can and should request appropriate medical documentation when an employee requests a workplace accommodation, that same right may be more restricted, and not best practice, with respect to accommodation requests from a customer under Title III.
Accommodations can take many forms — but there are limits. A business need not accommodate someone if doing so would impede the business’s ability to safely provide its goods and services.
Under current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, allowing unmasked members of the public into business establishments creates a health and safety risk.
Moreover, COVID-19 is spread by persons who may be asymptomatic, and who possibly have no idea whether they carry the virus. As a result, in light of the CDC guidance, customers can be required to wear masks or other suitable face coverings (e.g.
, bandana, face shield, and the ) subject to applicable state and local ordinances mandating masks. For example, some state and local laws specifically exclude masks for persons unable to wear them due to a medical condition.
Under these circumstances, businesses have a good faith basis to not accommodate an unmasked member of the public — although, no-contact shopping alternatives should be considered and communicated to the customer where a disability is involved. However, businesses should always be careful to align themselves with applicable state and local government requirements as they can change from state to state, and city to city.
Preventing Workplace Violence
Unfortunately, masking has become more than a health and safety concern. Across the country, reports abound of security guards and other retail employees confronted with increasing violence while trying to enforce mask requirements. Similarly, restaurant workers repeatedly have been met with violence when asking patrons to wear a mask.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace for employees. Businesses should consider the impact threatening customer encounters on their premises could have on the safety of their employees and customers, as well as business operations. Some practical steps businesses can take include the following:
- Make signage abundant and clear and provide no-contact service delivery where possible. The CDC recommends using verbal announcements, signs, and visual cues to promote social distancing and safety initiatives even before customers enter the building. Restaurants and retail businesses should consider including their phone number for curbside pickup or delivery options on mask signage for customers not wishing to comply with the public health requirements. Businesses also can provide remote shopping alternatives. Many businesses use humor to communicate the necessary message (the internet provides many examples). Another approach is to focus on employee safety and the mandate on the company to provide a safe work environment (i.e., “We want our associates to remain healthy and available to provide you the customer service you deserve, so please wear your mask.”).
- When possible, give masks away for free. When a customer attempts to enter a business without a mask on, the business can offer one. This may defuse the situation if the person simply forgot their mask and feel frustrated they need to return home or their car to retrieve a mask before entering.
- Train employees on mask policies and procedures. For their own safety, employees should not argue with customers who refuse to wear a mask and potentially escalate the situation. Employees should not attempt to apprehend resistant customers, block customers from entering or exiting the store, or physically force customers to leave. Employees should remain calm, discreetly call security (if possible) or local law enforcement, and allow the police to handle it.
- Assign the right person(s) to communicate the message. Staff have different skill sets; some are charming and disarming, while others are whizzes with numbers but have a gruff demeanor. The more pleasant the approach with non-compliant customers, the more ly of gaining compliance. Instead of being demanding with a customer who refuses to wear a mask, try a softer approach (e.g., “Wow, you must be having a tough day today. This whole COVID-19 situation has been hard on all of us. How can I convince you we all just want to get through the day healthy and ready for tomorrow?”). It may not always work, but this is about minimizing the issues when possible.
The U.S. Marine Corps has a slogan: “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.” If there was a slogan for business in 2020, it is hard to think of one better suited. Businesses can plan and prepare their responses to customers who refuse to follow mask requirements, as well as any confrontations that may cause.
Jackson Lewis attorneys have developed blog posts, webinars, legal updates, and online resources to address many of the specific employment law issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jackson Lewis attorneys are closely monitoring updates and changes to legal requirements and guidance and are available to help employers weed through the complexities involved.
If you have questions or need assistance, please reach out to the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work, or any member of our COVID-19 team.
Face mask requirements: Can stores make you wear a mask? Do kids have to wear masks?
This woman said she felt threatened when a fellow customer cursed her out for not wearing a mask at a Los Angeles Trader Joe's. Storyful
Businesses can require consumers to wear shirts, pants and shoes – but what about masks?
Conflicts at businesses and viral videos of shoppers' tirades have erupted in recent weeks as coronavirus cases surge in 40 states and at least 21 states pause reopening plans.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, states have varied on mandates, and some cities and counties issue their own requirements. Meanwhile, several retailers including Walmart, Target and Kroger have announced they will require customers wear face masks at all stores nationwide.
Last month, a woman without a mask at a California Trader Joe's called employees and shoppers “Democratic pigs” and screamed profanities because she said she felt threatened when a fellow customer cursed her out for not wearing a mask.
In Fort Worth, Texas, a woman was recorded spitting on a 7-Eleven counter Monday after the cashier refused to ring up her purchase because she was not wearing a mask.
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Customers wait in line to enter a store at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., on June 29. (Photo: Seth Wenig/AP)
Workers, including grocery store employees, who fought for measures such as masks at the onset of the pandemic, are having to fight for the measures again, said Susan Hernandez, a longtime employee at a California Food 4 Less and UFCW 770 member.
“We urge shoppers to think of themselves, think of their families and think of us when they are at the store. Please wear a mask,” Hernandez said, noting that when a customer “gets aggressive, we try to deescalate the situation.”
To protect workers, some retailers won't confront shoppers who enter without a mask.
“Walgreens encourages customers to wear face coverings but concern for employees’ safety, advises against confronting customers about the policy or trying to keep them from entering stores,” the drugstore chain said in its COVID-19 frequently asked questions.
If you're planning to shop, know the answers to these FAQs:
Can stores and restaurants require masks?
Yes. Local governments can decide what safety measures to impose on businesses, but individual businesses can institute further restrictions.
Many governors instituted or renewed orders requiring people to wear face coverings in public.
Most of the orders require people to wear masks in both indoor and outdoor public spaces where social distancing isn't possible, but some apply to only specific places or age groups.
Which states require face masks? Kansas, Texas join growing list of states where it's mandatory
National mask mandate? Goldman Sachs says it could lower virus infections and help recovery
This is how often you should wash your cloth face mask. USA TODAY
What stores require masks at all locations?
Stores requiring shoppers wear masks at all locations include Costco Wholesale Club, Walmart, Target and Apple.
Whole Foods and Wegmans follow local ordinances on mask requirements. Texas-based H-E-B started requiring all customers to wear a face mask or covering when shopping in all its stores July 1, reported the Corpus Christi Caller Times, part of the USA TODAY Network.
Do ride-shares require masks?
Yes. Uber and Lyft say drivers and passengers have to wear face masks. Uber announced it extended its mask requirement indefinitely throughout the USA and Canada.
“Extending our 'No Mask, No Ride' policy is the right thing to do,” Uber said in a statement. “We want to send a clear message to everyone using Uber that we all have a role to play to keep each other safe.”
According to a Pew Research Center survey in June, 65% of U.S. adults say they have personally worn a mask in stores or other businesses all or most of the time in the past month, and 15% say they did this some of the time. The survey found 9% of adults say they hardly ever wear a mask, and 7% say they never wore a mask in the past month.
Wearing a mask is a best practice widely agreed upon by scientists. Masks, even homemade or ear-loop masks, help slow the spread of the virus, according to studies. Although it is not a medical debate, it has become a politically charged one.
According to a report from nonprofit Media Matters for America, posts over the past month about masks from right-leaning pages got more than 5.
5 million interactions, and the posts promoting skepticism about the efficacy of face coverings got the most interactions.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the White House press corps Thursday that President Trump supports Americans wearing masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. (July 2) AP Domestic
What does the CDC say about face coverings?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and around people who don’t live in their household, especially when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
“COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected,” the CDC says on its website, noting that “wearing cloth face coverings may not be possible in every situation” for some people and “may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency, or introduce significant safety concerns.”
Can masks cause low oxygen levels?
The American Lung Association said June 18 in a blog that “masks are designed to be breathed through and there is no evidence that low oxygen levels occur” and that there is “absolutely no scientific evidence that mask wearing or physical distancing weakens the immune system.” People with preexisting lung problems should “discuss mask wearing concerns with their health care providers,” the association said.
USA TODAY fact checked claims that wearing a face mask for prolonged periods of time would cause someone to experience significant reductions in oxygen intake, resulting in hypoxemia. The fact check found no evidence to support this. Cloth and surgical masks are unly to cause a dangerous drop in oxygen intake because they are not tight-fitting.
“In general, if your breathing condition is well enough to allow yelling or being outside without oxygen, you can wear a mask medically,” Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' chief medical correspondent, said when discussing the California Trader Joe's incident on “Good Morning America” June 29.
Face-mask-exempt cards? Not real
Though social media posts claim cardholders are exempt from wearing a mask because of health reasons, the cards are fake. The Americans With Disabilities Act website warns of “fraudulent facemask flyers.”
An anti-mask group called the Freedom to Breathe Agency is suspected of creating the face-mask-exempt cards, which, according to images of the card posted on social media, note “steep penalties” are threatened if a business owner does not act accordingly.
Are people with disabilities required to wear masks?
According to the Southeast ADA Center in Atlanta, which provides training and guidance on access, if “a person with a disability is not able to wear a face mask, state and local government agencies and private businesses must consider reasonable modifications to a face mask policy so that the person with the disability can participate in, or benefit from, the programs offered or goods and services that are provided.”
Reasonable modifications listed included allowing customers to order with curbside pickup, offering appointments and face shields instead of face masks, the center said June 12 in a disability issues brief. Businesses may not have to offer services if they would require a fundamental change in the business model or create an undue burden or if a person poses a direct threat to the health of others.
“The requirement to modify a policy, practice or procedure does not include individuals without disabilities, as they are not protected under the ADA,” the brief said.
Should kids wear masks?
According to the CDC, cloth face coverings should not be worn by children younger than 2. Older children can and should wear masks, experts say. Schools across the nation are considering mask requirements when classes resume. Different areas have different requirements by age.
Wisconsin-based Menards, which said in early April that it would no longer allow children under 16 in any of its stores during the pandemic, is allowing children again. “Children are welcome. Masks or face coverings are required on children unless in arms or seated in shopping carts,” Menards says on its website.
Reviewed:27 face masks kids will actually wear
Contributing: Grace Hauck and Anna Staver, USA TODAY; Alexandria Rodriguez, Corpus Christi Caller Times; Leah Romero, Las Cruces Sun-News
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on : @KellyTyko
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