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Here's How Walmart Plans to Enforce Face Mask Rules in Stores

The retail giant is debuting a unique way to manage ongoing friction over facial coverings.
walmart employee in face mask breaking down box

Walmart is taking a novel approach to ensuring that shoppers abide by state and local mask mandates. The world's largest retail chain is adding "health ambassadors" to the front of select stores nationwide to remind customers that they must wear a face mask or cover before entering their store.

Universal mask-wearing has proven to be an effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19, and yet, in this hyper-partisan environment, it has also become something of a hot political debate. There are a growing number of viral videos showing customers and workers getting into heated arguments about mask-wearing in grocery stores, especially.

Enter Walmart's health ambassadors. Their primary responsibility seems to be de-escalating any mask-wearing conflict before a shopper enters a location. "Our COVID-19 protocols have continued to adapt during the pandemic in response to evolving research and mandates spanning the country," a Walmart spokesperson told Fox Business. "Additional safety changes took effect July 9 to expand our efforts in reminding customers of the importance and necessity of wearing face coverings in our stores."

Months ago, Walmart announced that all associates are required to wear masks and instituted a number of policies designed to keep shoppers and staff members safe amid the coronavirus pandemic. Not every new policy went over well with shoppers at first, but people have since adapted to these practices.

"As of Monday, everyone will be required to wear a mask to enter the store, as per Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive order," Walmart Health Ambassador Raymond Haight told Grand Rapids Pioneer on Friday as he stood by the front entrance to the Walmart in Big Rapids, Michigan. "We will be turning customers away without masks."

There are currently over 20 states that mandate citizens wear masks designed to abate the resurging coronavirus outbreak across the country. Recent research shows that among the riskiest places to contract COVID-19 are indoor areas that are highly-trafficked, crowded, and poorly ventilated. In late March, Walmart was among the first national chains to face a wrongful death lawsuit for the estate of an associate who succumbed to the virus.

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