Walmart announced Wednesday it will start requiring customers to wear face coverings.
The policy includes all Walmart and Sam’s Club stores. It’s the largest retailer so far to introduce a mask mandate.
Starbucks and Best Buy recently announced similar requirements. The policies at those two chains took effect Wednesday. Only a handful of major retailers have mandated masks for all customers at all locations.
The National Retail Federation said in a news release Wednesday it hopes the example set by Walmart —the country's biggest retailer — proves to be a “tipping point in this public health debate.”
Retailers have largely resisted issuing mask policies to avoid upsetting customers or making employees play enforcer. But retail experts say the recent coronavirus surge leaves them with no choice.
About 65% of Walmart’s more than 5,000 stores are located in areas that already have a government mandate on face coverings. The policy goes into effect next Monday.
Additional reporting by Anne D'Innocenzio of the Associated Press.