Walmart Considers Joining Costco, Menards, Starbucks In Requiring Face Masks

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More changes could be coming to Walmart (WMT) as the retail giant considers implementing a face mask requirement for its shoppers during the coronavirus pandemic.

CEO Doug McMillon told Bloomberg during its “Leadership Live with David Rubenstein” program that the idea is a possibility.

McMillon said face masks are already required in about 3,700 of its more than 5,000 stores “where either a governor or someone else has mandated it.”

“We don’t currently, as we’re doing this interview, mandate that in our other stores, but that’s obviously something that’s on our minds,” McMillon said.

Walmart would join Costco, Menards, and, more recently, Starbucks in requiring its customers to wear face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Starbucks’ face mask policy goes into effect Wednesday.

Walmart also would have the backing of the Retail Industry Leaders Association that represents the company, along with Target, Best Buy, Walgreens, Home Depot, and more than 200 other retail chains, if it would require a face mask mandate for its stores.

The association has called on governors to make face masks a mandate across the U.S., saying that local mandates have caused confusion and led to conflicts among customers and store personnel, USA Today reported.

A rash of viral videos has made their way to social media, showing customers outraged by face mask requirements, refusing to wear them when required at retailers – often starting fights with employees over the requirement.

“Retailers are alarmed with the instances of hostility and violence front-line employees are experiencing by a vocal minority of customers who are under the misguided impression that wearing a mask is a violation of their civil liberties,” Brian Dodge, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in a letter to the National Governors Association obtained by USA Today.

Walmart has made a series of other changes at its stores amid the coronavirus pandemic, including reducing its store hours, offering dedicated senior hours, promoting social distancing, added plexiglass shields, and introducing enhanced cleaning measures.

Walmart does require all of its store employees to wear face masks while working. The company also performs temperature checks upon the start of each worker’s shift.

Shares of Walmart were trading at $130.72 as of 12:06 p.m. ET, gaining $1.20 or 0.93%.

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