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Multiple retailers requiring customers to mask up

List of national retail chains requiring masks is growing

NEW YORK (AP) — Target and CVS Health on Thursday joined the growing list of national chains that will require customers to wear face masks regardless of where cities or states stand on the issue.

Target’s mandatory face mask policy will go into effect Aug. 1, and all CVS stores will begin requiring them on Monday.

More than 80 percent of Target’s 1,800 stores already require customers to wear masks due to local and state regulations. Target will hand out masks at entrances to those who need them.

The announcements come one day after the nation’s largest retailer, Walmart, said that it would mandate face shields for all customers starting Monday at all of its namesake and Sam’s Club stores, making it the largest retailer to introduce such a policy that has otherwise proven difficult to enforce without state and federal requirements.

The company said Wednesday that the policy will go into effect on Monday to allow time to inform customers. Currently, about 65 percent 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.

Hours after Walmart’s announcement, supermarket chain Kroger, based in Cincinnati, and department store Kohl’s, based in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, followed suit. Kohl’s policy will go into effect on Monday, while Kroger’s mask protocol will go into effect July 22.

Retailers have hesitated to make masks mandatory nationwide out of fear of angering some customers over what, even in a pandemic, has become a political issue.

They have been reluctant to put employees in the position of becoming enforcers. Confrontations with customers and store employees have played out in multiple incidents caught on video.

It was difficult to enforce such rules even in states that mandate face masks. However, the recent surge of new virus cases — particularly in Florida, California, Texas and Arizona — has left them with no choice, retail experts say.

“To be clear, we’re not asking our store employees to play the role of enforcer, “ said Jon Roberts, the chief operating officer at CVS. “What we are asking is that customers help protect themselves and those around them by listening to the experts and heeding the call to wear a face covering.”