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Walmart Requiring All Employees to Wear Masks

Retail giant announces plans to protect staffers and shoppers from COVID-19.
Walmart

Walmart announced a new policy to combat the outbreak of the coronavirus on Friday that will require all employees to wear a mask or face covering while at work. The policy will take place on Monday, April 2oth.

While the vast majority of the nation follows the stay at home guidelines and self-quarantine, shopping at grocery stores has become an essential activity that requires close interaction that challenges the social distancing policies advised by the White House guidelines from mid-March. As a result, the weekly procurement of groceries has gone from a onetime enjoyable routine to one of stress and great peril.

In a jointly-written letter posted on their website, Walmart US CEO John Furner and Sam's Club CEO Kath McLay wrote "We will begin requiring that associates wear masks or other face coverings at work. This includes our stores, clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers, as well as in our corporate offices." They also are "encouraging customers and members to wear face coverings when they shop with us."

While health care workers and first responders have deservedly reaped great appreciation, grocery store employees are also on the front frontlines of the battle against the deadly COVID-19 contagion. Dozens of grocery store associates have succumbed to the deadly virus, and Walmart has even faced a wrongful death lawsuit from the estate of an Illinois associate who passed in March.

READ MORE: 9 Worst Grocery Store Chains to Shop at During the Pandemic

Read the full statement from Walmart below:

To: All U.S.-based associates
From: John Furner, President and Chief Executive Officer – Walmart U.S. and Kath McLay, President and Chief Executive Officer – Sam's Club

Throughout this pandemic, your health and well-being has been our top priority. It was just over a month ago that we announced our COVID-19 emergency leave policy, and since then, we have taken more steps to protect you, our customers and our members with the guidance of our state and local public health officials, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as well as our company's own Chief Medical Officer.

Today, we are sharing another step: We will begin requiring that associates wear masks or other face coverings at work. This includes our stores, clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers, as well as in our corporate offices. We'll also be encouraging customers and members to wear face coverings when they shop with us.

We have evolved our policy on face coverings from optional to mandatory as public health guidance has shifted. 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. 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.

Starting Monday, you'll be required to wear a face covering at work. You can provide your own as long as it meets certain guidelines, or we will provide you with one as you pass your associate health screen and temperature check. We're also aware there may need to be exceptions to this policy based on local laws and individual health needs.

We hope this step will promote safety and consistency across all of our facilities and be of comfort to our customers and members. However, it's important to remember that face coverings are simply an additional health precaution. They do not guarantee against the spread of this virus, and they do not replace the most important steps you can take to keep yourself and others safe: 6-20-100. Whether at work or elsewhere, practice six feet of social distancing whenever possible. Regularly wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds. And if you have a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, stay home.

We're also announcing today that we are extending our emergency leave policy through the end of May to ensure you have the support you need when you have to miss work.

Thank you for your commitment to helping ensure Walmart and Sam's Club are safe places to work and shop. Together, we are providing a critical service for communities across the country. During this extraordinary time, our customers and members need us more than ever. Thank you for being there for them and each other.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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