Walmart and Sam's Clubs to require customers wear masks at all its stores

Shoppers wearing face coverings leaving a Walmart store.
Photo credit Scott Olsen / Getty

Kansas City, MO - Walmart has become the latest major retailer to require customers to wear face coverings at all of its namesake and Sam’s Club stores.

The nation's largest retailer said the policy will go into effect on Monday to give the company time to inform stores and customers. 

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said that currently about 65% of its more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is already some form of government mandate on face coverings.

The retailer also said it will create the role of 'health ambassador' at its Walmart stores and will station them near the entrance to remind customers without masks of its new requirement.

Walmart joins a growing list of retailers that have begun implementing face mask policies. Earlier in the week, coffee giant Starbucks announced it will require all customers to wear face masks at all company-owned stores beginning Wednesday.

Best Buy, which originally encouraged face masks but did not require them, is also making them mandatory in stores starting Wednesday.

Other big-box retailers such as Costco have been enforcing mask-wearing since May.

Since there is no national mandate for face masks, retailers have been leery about making employees enforce face coverings out of fear that they would get pushback from angry customers who refuse to wear them.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that everyone "should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public” and stresses the importance of protecting those around you and curbing the spread of the novel virus.

Despite ongoing debate over the use and effectiveness of face coverings to stymie the transmission of COVID-19, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, made himself very clear when he said "over the next six weeks we could drive this epidemic to the ground."

Cases of COVID-19 around the United States continue to rise rapidly. Since July 8, over 3 million cases have now been reported.

Florida, the epicenter of the virus, shattered its own records with 15,299 new cases of the virus reported on Sunday.