Walmart, the world's largest brick-and-mortar retailer, will require all employees to wear face masks starting on Monday. The immense retail chain will also encourage shoppers to don face coverings as a way to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Walmart made the announcement in a letter to its employees that was posted on the retailer's website.
"On Monday, we will begin requiring associates to wear masks or other face coverings at work," the letter read. "This includes our stores, clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers, as well as in our corporate offices."
On Monday, we will begin requiring associates to wear masks or other face coverings at work. This includes our storâ�¦ https://t.co/eIagYqDGwm— Walmart Inc. (@Walmart Inc.)1587170664.0
Employees of Sam's Club, the membership warehouse that is owned by Walmart, will also have to wear masks.
The letter, which was written by Walmart President and CEO John Furner, as well as Sam's Club President and CEO Kath McLay, said the change in policy was congruent to the revision in health advisories regarding face masks and coronavirus protection.
"We have evolved our policy on face coverings from optional to mandatory as public health guidance has shifted," the CEOs said in the letter. "The CDC now recommends wearing face coverings in public settings, including grocery stores, to help curb the spread of the virus."
"Although most state and local governments do not mandate the use of face coverings in public settings, the CDC has reported that recent studies show a significant portion of individuals with the virus lack symptoms and can transmit the virus," the letter said. "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."
Employees are permitted to use their own masks at work as long as they are up to standards; otherwise Walmart and Sam's Club will provide them with PPE.
Shoppers also are being encouraged to wear face masks as part of the retailers' response to COVID-19.
On April 3, Walmart announced that it would limit the number of customers who could be in the store at one time.
"Stores will now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20 percent of a store's capacity," the retailer stated as its effort to help customers make sure they are practicing social distancing.