Updated 5:45 PM ET, Sun July 26, 2020
Walmart and other major retailers made headlines last week with a new requirement for customers to wear masks in its US stores. But the new rules only go so far.Walmart (WMT), Home Depot (HD), Lowe’s (LOW), Walgreens (WBA), CVS (CVS) and others say they still won’t prohibit customers who refuse to wear a mask from shopping in stores. The issue, they say, is they want to avoid confrontations between angry customers and employees.Retailers and their employees are finding themselves playing the uncomfortable role of mask police. The increase in coronavirus cases is prompting concern over how to protect both customers and workers in crowded stores from infecting each other.There is no federal mandate to wear a mask, and many state and local governments have not required wearing one. This has forced retailers to navigate a patchwork system and left them in the position of having to create their own policies.
“Many retailers feel like they have to act since some governors haven’t,” said Melissa Murdock, spokesperson for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents companies such as Walmart, Target, Walgreens and others. The group wrote to the National Governors Association on July 6, saying that public officials should issue uniform mask mandates across all 50 states.Labor advocates and retailers agree that store employees should not be the ones enforcing mask wearing. But it’s not clear who will fill the void……….