CVS and Target will require customers to wear masks in their stores across the United States as the retail industry moves to enforce mask mandates to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“We’re joining others in taking the next step and requiring all customers to wear face coverings,” CVS tweeted Thursday. The policy goes into effect Monday.
Target said in a statement it would start requiring masks or face coverings starting August 1 in all stores. “This builds on the more than 80% of our stores that already require guests to wear face coverings due to local and state regulations,” it said.
Target said it would provide disposable masks at entrances to customers who don’t have one.
The announcement came a day after Walmart, Kroger and Kohl’s said that masks would be mandatory in all their stores and the National Retail Federation, the main lobbying group for the industry, called on retailers to require masks for customers. Best Buy announced Tuesday that it will require customers to wear masks.
These companies’ measures go beyond US federal mandates on Covid-19 safety. Although no federal mandate to wear a mask exists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says everyone “should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public.” The CDC said that “face coverings are meant to protect other people.”
Most major retailers and grocers have hesitated to enact their own mask mandates for customers during the pandemic, partly over fears of antagonizing shoppers who refuse to wear them. Retailers have said they are reluctant to put their employees in the position of enforcing mask requirements.
The ground has shifted for retailers in recent weeks as the pandemic’s toll has gone up. More than 3 million people have now tested positive for coronavirus nationwide and more than 135,000 have died.
Cases are climbing in much of the country, and many cities and states are reimposing restrictions to contain new outbreaks, including mask requirements in public settings.