Here Are All the Major Grocery Stores That Now Require Customers to Wear Face Masks

updated Jul 17, 2020
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Headed to the grocery store? Don’t forget your shopping list, wallet, and — for many major chains across the U.S. — your face covering.

Though it was long presumed and implied by previous studies and anecdotal data, the science behind the easiest way to slow the spread of coronavirus is now nearing conclusive: wearing a mask of nearly any sort significantly prevents the transmission of the virus. While staying home and social distancing go a long way toward keeping everyone safe, food is a necessity and thus one of the major points of interaction in many communities comes at the grocery store. In order to keep customers, employees, and their communities safe, many of the major chains have implemented mask requirements in their stores.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, announced that starting July 20, all customers must wear masks while in their stores, including Sam’s Clubs. Aldi also just announced their new face mask policy (which starts on July 27). The wide reach and huge influence of the company is just the latest in a series of stores making that commitment to fighting the pandemic. Costco led the field, requiring masks of all customers starting at the beginning of May. That led to the warehouses becoming a flashpoint for mask refusers, but the company stood its ground. Whole Foods went next, though they have gone the slightly different route of requesting it of all customers while supplying masks to any shopper without their own. Trader Joe’s, which has garnered some praise for how they’ve dealt with the pandemic and was the site of more than one viral video of mask refusers, had been requiring masks at some stores but now requests that all customers wear them.

The announcement from Walmart paves the way for competitors, like Target, which has now made the same requirement. It also helped smaller chains like Kroger and Publix to enact the same rules — each made the same announcement within hours of Walmart.

While there has been significant pushback from people claiming they are physically unable to wear masks for medical reasons, there has been no actual evidence of any such issue, even from people in jobs that require them to wear more restrictive versions for long periods of time. Furthermore, while it is true that stores cannot refuse to serve a customer if a disability prevents them from wearing a mask, the store does not need to permit them entrance, but simply accommodate them, which could be in the form of curbside pick-up or similar grocery service.