Retail giant Walmart announced on Wednesday that it will require customers to wear masks at its 5,000 stores across the country in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement came as the number of cases has skyrocketed in the past few weeks as the country tries to reopen.

“From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our focus and priority has been and continues to be on the health and safety of our associates, members and customers,” Dacona Smith, Chief Operating Officer for Walmart US, said. “As the number of confirmed cases has spiked in communities across the country recently, so too have the number and types of face covering mandates being implemented.”

Smith went on to say that around 65 percent of the stores in the country already require customers to wear masks.

Walmart stores in Iola and Parsons are among those who already require masks to enter. At those locations, there is a tent set up at the storefront where an employee offers masks to customers who don’t have one.

The new rule will go into effect on Monday, July 20.

“In addition to posting clear signage at the front of our stores, Walmart has created the role of Health Ambassador and will station them near the entrance to remind those without a mask of our new requirements. Our ambassadors will receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers. The ambassadors, identifiable by their black polo shirts, will work with customers who show up at a store without face covering to find a solution,” Smith said.

Management at the Chanute location said they could not speak about the new rule or how they would enforce it.

Smith said that even though people have differing opinions on the topic, they recognize the role they can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities they serve by following the evolving guidance of health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control.



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