Walmart and Sam’s Club have announced that all employees are being required to wear face masks to work starting Monday, April 20, in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The retail giants announced the decision Friday, April 17, in a letter sent to employees from Walmart President/CEO John Furner and Sam’s Club President/CEO Kath McLay.
“We have evolved our policy on face coverings from optional to mandatory as public health guidance has shifted,” Furner and McLay wrote in the letter posted to the Walmart website.
“The CDC now recommends wearing face coverings in public settings, including grocery stores, to help curb the spread of the virus. With this knowledge, we believe it is simply in everyone’s best interest to use masks or face coverings to curb the spread of this disease.”
The mandate extends to all stores, clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers, as well as corporate offices, officials said.
Shoppers also are being encouraged to wear face masks as part of the retailers’ response to COVID-19.
Employees are allowed to use their own face masks, as long as they are up to standards, according to the release. Stores will provide employees with masks if needed during health screening before coming in to work.
Earlier this month, Walmart joined large retailers around the country in announcing a limit to the number of customers allowed in stores at one time in response to the coronavirus crisis.
To promote social distancing, Walmart has limited capacity to roughly 20 percent, or five customers per 1,000 square feet of space. Once a store reaches capacity, customers are then admitted on a “1-out-1-in” basis.
Grocery stores are considered essential and have remained open under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, which closed all non-essential businesses on March 23.
Many grocery store chains, including Walmart, have had to hire extra staff to keep up with demands brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, Whitmer encouraged all Michiganders to start wearing face covering when out in public settings in an effort to reduce the spread of the disease. Although residents are still asked to limit all trips outside the home, she urged residents to wear homemade masks if they have to leave their homes.
The governor’s message aligns with recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and comes with a continued plea to leave N95 and surgical masks for medical professionals already dealing with a shortage of necessary protective equipment.
CORONAVIRUS PREVENTION TIPS
In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus. Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible. Carry hand sanitizer with you, and use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home ( door handles, faucets, countertops ) and when you go into places like stores.
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