Grocery chain makes coronavirus face coverings mandatory for customers

Face Masks Required at 10 Biggest Chains, Including Walmart

Grocery chain makes coronavirus face coverings mandatory for customers

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.

Home Depot

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.

Apple Store

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.”

Best Buy

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.”

TJX Companies

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.

Dollar General

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.

Dollar Tree

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.”


21 restaurant and supermarket chains that require customers to wear masks

Grocery chain makes coronavirus face coverings mandatory for customers

Businesses and cities across the country are requiring people to wear masks, which some people say infringe upon their individual rights. USA TODAY

Some 96% of the restaurants surveyed around the country in July by industry newsletter Restaurant Dive reported that they required their employees to wear masks while working. Many supermarket chains had similar rules in place. The policy is now increasingly extending to customers as well.

As of mid-August, the governments of some 34 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, had mandated the wearing of protective masks or other face coverings in public places – including restaurants, stores, and hotel common areas – according to a state-by-state guide to face mask requirements published by AARP.

In addition, a growing number of major national and regional restaurant and supermarket chains have issued systemwide mask orders of their own – even though many of their locations were already subject to the statewide mandates. Chains that have taken this extra step include Starbucks, McDonald's, Chipotle, Shake Shack, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods.

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The public hasn't always appreciated the new measures. For whatever reasons, mask-wearing (or not-wearing) has become a political issue – and a sometimes violently emotional one.

In July, for instance, two customers at a Manhattan branch of Trader Joe's not only refused to wear masks, but also ripped the mask off an employee in protest, hit another one with a wooden paddle, and pulled a third one's hair.

The same month, a cashier at a McDonald's drive-thru window in Oakland, California, was assaulted – through the window – by a man who resented being asked to cover his face.

Numerous other examples of mask rage have been recorded around the country, with some establishments actually closing down rather than risking harassment or worse from angry anti-mask customers. (The mask issue isn't the only reason some places are shutting down. These are states where recently reopened bars and dining rooms are closing again.)

The good news is that, angry mask-haters aside, the general populace seems to be getting used to wearing masks in public.

A Harris Poll published last month found that 76% of Americans believe that retail businesses in general – not just restaurants and supermarkets – should institute customer mask policies, with 78% feeling that workers should be prepared to enforce them. (Already, these national stores require customers to wear face masks.)

In most cases, corporate policies introduced by restaurant and supermarket chains went into effect in late July or early August. Most mandates cite exceptions age or health conditions, and for obvious reasons, restaurant customers don't have to keep their faces covered when they're actually eating or drinking.

“We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” said Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a statement released in mid-July.

“Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting.

” That certainly would include restaurants and grocery stores.

Albertsons. (Photo: Wolterk / Getty Images)


All 2,252 supermarkets Albertsons operates nationwide – under its own brand as well as such brands as Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Jewel-Osco, Acme, and Shaws – began requiring customers to don face coverings on July 21. The company website says the policy is for the customers' protection and for that of the associates.

Aldi. (Photo: jeepersmedia / Flickr)


Effective July 27, ALDI discount supermarkets began requiring that both customers and staff at all stores wear masks, as “an enhanced safety measure intended to help limit the spread of COVID-19,” as a corporate statement put it. The company urges customers unable or unwilling to wear a face covering to use the ALDI delivery service or, where available, curbside pickup.

Baskin-Robbins. (Photo: Baskin-Robbins)


As of Aug. 5, the ice cream chain began mandating “a face covering while inside our restaurants” for all customers. In its statement announcing the policy, the company went on to say, “This simple step … will help to provide a safe environment for guests, franchisees and their restaurant employees.”

Chipotle Mexican Grill. (Photo:

Chipotle Mexican Grill

In a statement to the trade publication Nation's Restaurant News, Chipotle chief corporate affairs and food safety officer Laurie Schalow announced that the chain had “proactively made the decision to require guests to wear masks in all restaurants.” The requirement went into effect on July 24.

Dunkin'. (Photo: jeepersmedia / Flickr)


Dunkin' (formerly Dunkin' Donuts) joined the ranks of restaurant chains requiring customers to wear masks on Aug. 5.

“We believe that wearing a mask is a simple step we can all take to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and help to keep guests and restaurant crew safe,” says a statement on the chain's website.

In a reference to its longtime slogan “America Runs on Dunkin',” the site includes a graphic depicting a Dunkin'-themed mask with the legend “Join us in wearing a mask to help keep America runnin'.”

H.E.B. (Photo: typhoonski / iStock Editorial via Getty Images)


This massive San Antonio-based grocery chain, whose only American stores are in Texas (it also operates in Mexico), introduced its statewide mask mandate for customers as of July 1.

“[A]s Texans Helping Texans,” reads a statement from the company, “we wear masks to keep each other and our families safe.” H.E.B.

's high-end Central Market chain, which has nine stores around Texas, instituted its own mask requirement on June 22.

Hilton Hotel restaurants. (Photo: Tupungato /

Hilton Hotel restaurants

“In accordance with CDC guidelines,” reads a statement on the Hilton website, “we are requiring face coverings in all indoor public areas of our hotels throughout the U.S. for guests and Team Members.” The measure, which includes hotel dining areas, took effect on July 28.

Hyatt Hotel restaurants. (Photo: veni / Flickr)

Hyatt Hotel restaurants

“NOTE: face coverings are required in hotel indoor public areas and when moving around in outdoor areas at all Hyatt hotels in the Americas,” says a statement on the Hyatt website. The policy, encompassing dining rooms as well as other public spaces, was instituted as of Aug. 10.

Kroger. (Photo: jetcityimage / Getty Images)


America's second-largest grocery company and largest supermarket chain (Walmart sells more groceries, along with many other items), Kroger mandated the wearing of face masks for customers on July 22. The policy applies not only to Kroger stores but also to other chains under the Kroger corporate umbrella, including Ralphs, Smith's, Fred Meyer, and Harris Teeter.

Marriott Hotel restaurants. (Photo: Tomsmith585 / iStock Editorial via Getty Images)

Marriott Hotel restaurants

Marriott, the world's largest hotel company, announced in a video message from company CEO Arne Sorenson that masks would be required in all indoor areas (restaurants included) as of July 27.

Wearing masks, said Sorenson, “is one of the easiest steps that we can all take to protect one another and reduce the spread of COVID-19.” The requirement applies to all of the company's U.S.

and Canadian properties, including more than 25 Marriott brands, among them Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, W Hotels, Westin, and Sheraton.

McDonald's. (Photo: McDonald's)


As of Aug. 1, McDonald's began requiring customers to wear face coverings when entering its U.S. restaurants.

The company statement announcing the policy notes that more than 80% of its locations are in states or localities where masks had already been mandated. Customers who enter without a mask, the chain told CNN Business, “will be offered one by an employee.

If they refuse to wear it, they'll be asked to stand at a designated spot, away from other customers, where they'll receive their orders.”

Noodles & Co. (Photo: Jando S. via Yelp)

Noodles & Co.

“Effective Wednesday, July 22,” reads a statement on the website of this internationally themed pasta chain, “all team members and guests who visit Noodles & Company will be required to wear a face covering inside all company-owned locations.”

Publix. (Photo: clearstockconcepts / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images)


This supermarket chain, with stores throughout Florida and other Southern states, initiated a customer mask requirement on July 21. According to a statement on the company website, “We have previously encouraged our customers to follow CDC guidance and have now implemented a face covering requirement in our stores to do our part and help protect our communities.”

Panda Express. (Photo: Juanmonino / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images)

Panda Express

On July 29, the fast casual American-Chinese chain Panda Express issued a statement saying, “We ask guests to respect our safety protocol and wear face masks when visiting our restaurants.” The company website adds, “Let's stay safe together…”

Panera Bread. (Photo: Wolterk / iStock Editorial via Getty Images)

Panera Bread

In a statement dated July 15, Panera announced that “guests are asked to wear a mask inside our bakery-cafes nationwide … [to] ensure the safety of our associates and guests.” The statement adds that “If any customer does not have or want to wear a mask for any reason, we will happily serve them via Panera Curbside, Delivery or Drive-Thru.”

Shake Shack. (Photo: jeepersmedia / Flickr)

Shake Shack

On July 30, this popular burger chain noted in a COVID-19 update on its website, “With the well-being of our communities as our guide, we've been adapting our Shacks to ensure the safety of our guests and team members.” Among other things, the statement specifies, this means that “Masks are required for all guests, team members + delivery couriers.”

Starbucks. (Photo: Starbucks)


“In its continued effort in prioritizing the health and well-being of partners (employees) and customers,” reads a statement on the ubiquitous coffee chain's website, “Starbucks today announced that beginning on July 15, it will be requiring customers to wear facial coverings while visiting all company-owned café locations in the US.”

Trader Joe's. (Photo: jeepersmedia / Flickr)

Trader Joe's

“We require customers wear a face covering while shopping in our stores,” says a statement by the chain. Interestingly, the chain provides masks to “crew members” (as it styles its employees) but is only “urging that they use them.”

Whole Foods Markets. (Photo: jeepersmedia / Flickr)

Whole Foods Market

As of July 20, the upscale Amazon-owned grocery chain has required all customers to wear face coverings “to protect the health and safety of our Team Members and communities,” according to the website. Masks are provided for customers who don't have their own.

Winn-Dixie. (Photo: NoDerog / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images)


The chain, which operates supermarkets in seven Southern states under several banners, began requiring customers to mask up on July 27.

It had initially refused to make the practice mandatory on the grounds that – as a company spokesperson told CBS News – “Mask mandates are a highly charged issue with our customers.

” The company still maintains that state and federal officials should pass mask laws instead of relying on individual companies to declare and enforce the policy.

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts restaurants. (Photo: tupungato / iStock)

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts restaurants

The major hotel group requires that “guests and all other individuals entering the hotel wear a mask or face covering when in indoor public areas.” Restaurants are included in the mandate, which extends to all the company's U.S. and Canadian properties. Wyndam's mask requirement went into effect on Aug. 10.

24/7 Wall Street is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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