(Natural News) As America continues to be hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, a growing number of major retailers are stepping up their efforts to help keep the virus under control by requiring customers to wear masks.
While places like Starbucks, Costco, Panera Bread and Best Buy have been requiring customers to wear masks before entering their stores for some time now, many major retailers were allowing people to decide for themselves until recently. On Wednesday, however, Walmart announced that an order goes into effect on July 20 covering 4,800 locations, along with roughly 600 Sam’s Club stores throughout the U.S.
The store said that it is making the move in the interest of bringing consistency to the chain; 65 percent of its stores are found in areas that are already covered by various mask laws. Starting on Monday, they will be placing “health ambassadors” at the doors of their stores to check if customers are complying with the rules and help them find a solution if they don’t have a face covering.
Walmart’s announcement was followed by a similar one from Kroger, who said that they will require customers to wear masks at all of their grocery stores. This move come amid a push by the National Retail Federation (NRF) to have all of its members require customers to wear masks for the safety of everyone.
Other major retailers requiring masks include Home Depot, Apple, CVS, Lowe’s, Kohl’s and Target. Both Home Depot and Target have said they will provide complimentary masks for guests who do not have them.
The NRF stated: “Shopping in a store is a privilege, not a right. If a customer refuses to adhere to store policies, they are putting employees and other customers at undue risk.”
Enforcing mask rules is proving difficult
The Retail Industry Leaders Association has urged stores not to leave the task of enforcing mask mandates up to store employees. Some people have been reacting violently or downright bizarrely to being told they must wear a mask to enter an establishment.
Last week, for example, a woman who was told to leave a Verizon store in California because she wasn’t wearing a mask urinated on the floor of the store. In Florida, a man was caught on film shoving a Walmart employee three times after he attempted to stop him from entering without a mask. The employee ended up falling to the ground in the altercation.
There have been countless similar stories in recent weeks of heated confrontations and people causing scenes after being asked to wear a mask by a store employee who is just doing their job, which has become a lot more difficult while trying to stop the virus from spreading. Some grocery store workers have expressed frustration over the situation, pointing out that they are not police officers and are not trained to handle such situations. Many report that the environment at their stores is tense.
People who cannot wear a mask because of certain health conditions may be exempt in some cases, but this is also proving difficult to enforce. However, despite some claims that HIPAA prevents business owners from asking why a person isn’t wearing a mask, the truth is that the regulation does not apply to individuals or business owners.
It is perfectly legal for a business owner to ask a person who isn’t wearing a mask why they aren’t doing so, even if it means discussing a medical condition. Of course, the individual isn’t required to answer, nor is the business required to allow that person inside. Some retailers are encouraging customers who can’t wear a face mask for medical reasons or those who simply don’t want to wear one to shop online or arrange curbside pickup instead.
Right now, 28 states and Washington D.C. have statewide mask mandates, and it won’t be surprising to see more states follow suit as this disease continues to spread and kill people throughout the country.
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