Several more food retailers have announced they would soon require all shoppers to wear protective face coverings in stores following updated recommendations to slow transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
Publix Super Markets (beginning July 21), Schnucks (July 20), Meijer (July 20), Target (Aug. 1), Albertsons Cos. (July 21), Lunds & Byerly's (July 31), Woodman's (July 20), Dierberg's (July 20), Associated Food Stores (July 20) and CVS Pharmacy (July 20) have joined Walmart, Kroger and Kohl’s stores in requiring face masks. The moves come as the coronavirus crisis shows little signs of abatement, growing especially in areas of the South and Southwest U.S. that avoided much of the earlier crisis in the Northeast.
Retailers in many cases have been reluctant to get out ahead of official mandates and/or state and local recommendations of safety measures to defend against the deadly virus in part because enforcing those rules could put their own workers in danger. But remarks this week by the director of the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) appears to have triggered the latest wave. Most food retailers nationwide have required their employees to wear face covering for months and encouraged shoppers to do so.
“From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we moved quickly to respond to the ever-changing environment and prioritize safety and cleanliness in our stores,” Schnucks Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck said in a statement. “We have been monitoring this situation closely, and given the escalating number of positive COVID-19 cases in the regions we serve, we believe requiring masks for teammates, vendors and, now, customers is in the best interest of public safety. We understand that there are a variety of opinions about masks; however, the CDC and other health experts are aligned on the benefits of facial coverings in reducing the spread of COVID-19.”
Schnucks, the 113-store retailer based in St. Louis, said signs would be posted at every store entrance informing customers of the facial covering requirement and directing those without one to request a mask from the first Schnucks teammate they see upon entering the store. Stores will have teammates available to greet customers at each entrance from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, and during designated senior hours. These teammates will help customers understand the facial covering requirement, offering masks to those without one and sanitize shopping carts, the retailer said.
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer, which operates 253 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, is now requiring all customers to wear masks; it had previously only required it for customers in locations where executive orders for mask wearing were already in place.
Meijer customers who have medical conditions that prevent them from wearing face coverings are exempt from the requirement. The retailer also is encouraging customers who do not want to come into the store to use its Meijer Home Delivery or Curbside pickup as options for their shopping needs.
WGB will update with additional retailer actions when they become available.