A slew of retailers have joined Walmart in requiring shoppers to wear face coverings at every U.S. store amid an upswing in coronavirus infections.
Target, CVS Health and Publix Super Markets announced new policies Thursday. Kohl's and Kroger made the change Wednesday afternoon, hours after Walmart -- the world's biggest retailer -- said it would require masks at its 5,300 namesake and Sam's Club locations.
Target said its new mask policy, which takes effect Aug. 1, does not apply to young children or those with underlying medical conditions. Like Walmart, it will station employees at store entrances to remind shoppers to wear masks and to provide disposable ones if needed.
Target will also install signs, run reminders on store audio systems and encourage no-contact shopping options. More than 80% of its 1,871 U.S. stores already have mask requirements in compliance with local and state mandates.
CVS said its policy takes effect Monday at its 10,000 U.S. locations.
"To be clear, we're not asking our store employees to play the role of enforcer," CVS Chief Operating Officer Jon Roberts said in a news release. "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."
Kroger, the nation's largest supermarket chain, announced Wednesday in a tweet that masks will be required at all its 2,758 stores. The Ohio-based grocer's banners include Kroger, Harris Teeter, Ralphs and Fred Meyer.
Kohl's policy takes effect Monday at more than 1,100 stores nationwide.
Both companies already required employees to wear masks.
Publix Super Markets Inc., based in Lakeland, Fla., said its rule will kick in Tuesday at its 1,200 stores.
Starbucks and Best Buy have also announced mandatory masks nationwide in recent days.
Walmart said masks would be required at all its stores starting Monday, and that it will position "health ambassadors" at the entryways to help with enforcement. The retailer said about 3,500 of its more than 5,300 Walmart and Sam's Clubs locations already are observing public health mandates within their markets.
"Workers serving customers should not have to make a critical decision as to whether they should risk exposure to infection or lose their jobs because a minority of people refuse to wear masks in order to help stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus," the National Retail Federation said in a statement.
The patchwork approach to masks and the political tempest surrounding them has left retail workers vulnerable as they enforce mask policies. Some workers say they have been told that they cannot refuse service to maskless customers, even if local laws require the wearing of masks.
During the pandemic, some retail workers have been physically assaulted, even suffering broken limbs and, in the case of a security guard at a Family Dollar store in Michigan, killed while trying to enforce the mask requirement.
Information for this article was contributed by Hannah Denham and Taylor Telford of The Washington Post and by Anne D'Innocenzio of The Associated Press.