Target Will Require All Customers to Wear Face Masks Starting August 1

Amanda Garrity

From Good Housekeeping

At the start of the coronavirus outbreak, many retailers altered their store hours, cleaning procedures, and shopping guidelines to ensure that everyone inside their stores — shoppers and essential workers alike — remained safe and healthy. Now, with cases currently rising in 37 states across the country, some big box retailers and popular chains are taking matters into their own hands by making it a requirement — not simply a recommendation — that customers wear face masks while shopping in their stores.

Walmart and Sam's Club, the latest big box retailers to join the growing list of stores requiring face masks, point out that 65% of their 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where state or local governments are already mandating face coverings. But to help limit the spread of COVID-19, they are implementing a policy of their own and urging other retailers to do the same: "To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20. This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols," the company wrote in recent statement. For those who aren't comfortable wearing a facial covering while shopping, they recommend taking advantage of online services or delivery options.

This comes after months of controversy and confusion surrounding the effectiveness of face masks: Despite early recommendations not to wear masks due to a national shortage of PPE for essential workers, the medical community has found that face coverings can limit the spread of COVID-19, especially since it is commonly spread in indoor spaces with limited airflow because of its viral nature as a respiratory illness. That means, unless you have a pre-existing respiratory or heart condition, you should wear a face covering or mask in public spaces where it's difficult to maintain the recommended social distance (six feet!) between yourself and strangers — or if you're in an establishment (think: hair salons, grocery stores, and schools) with specific policies in place.

Single-use masks, cloth-based masks, and face coverings are worn to keep people in your proximity safe by catching potentially infectious airborne virus particles that you've exhaled. Keep in mind that experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have concluded that a large majority of the initial COVID-19 outbreak was traced back to asymptomatic individuals who unknowingly spread the disease to others.

As a reminder, the COVID-19 outbreak is constantly evolving, which means the mask requirements for your local stores may be changing, too. It's always best to call your nearest location before you head out to get the most up-to-date information.

Here's a list of stores requiring face masks:

  • Best Buy: As of July 15, face masks are required for all customers except small children and "those unable to wear one for health reasons." They will provide face coverings to customers if they don't have one.

  • Costco: All members and guests, excluding "children under the age of 2 or to individuals who are unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition," must wear face coverings.

  • CVS: Starting July 20, "all customers to wear face coverings when entering any of our stores throughout the country."

  • Dollar Tree: All "associates, customers, and vendors" must wear face coverings. They will provide face coverings to customers if they don't have one.

  • Kohl's: Starting July 20, all customers must wear a face covering.

  • Kroger: Starting July 22, all customers, excluding small children and those with medical conditions, must wear a face covering. They encourage anyone who can't wear a mask due to medical reasons "to consider an alternative option like a face shield or facial covering."

  • Sam's Club: Starting July 20, all customers, excluding small children or those with a medical reason, must wear face masks. Complimentary face masks will be handed out at the store's entrance.

  • Starbucks: As of July 15, all customers must "wear facial coverings while visiting all company-owned café locations in the U.S."

  • Target: Starting August 1, all customers must wear face masks, "excluding those with underlying medical conditions and young children." They will hand out disposable masks at store entrances for customers who don't have them.

  • Walmart: Starting July 20, all customers, excluding small children or those with a medical reason, must wear face masks.

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