Many retailers in the region have adopted a face-covering policy or will soon have one.
Following shortly on the heels of Walmart’s July 15 announcement that all stores will require shoppers to wear masks, several other national retailers have followed suit. Face-covering policies are popping up as cases of coronavirus continue to rise in the region and across the country.
A July 16 USA Today report states Target will begin requiring masks on Aug. 1. The policy does not include people who have underlying health conditions and young children. Customers who don’t have masks will be provided a disposable one at the entrance. CVS also has announced it will institute a mask policy at all of its locations.
“With the recent spike in COVID-19 infections, we're joining others in taking the next step and requiring all customers to wear face coverings when entering any of our stores throughout the country effective Monday, July 20,” stated Jon Roberts, chief operating officer of CVS, in a Thursday press release.
That same date is when Walmart, Sam’s Club, Kohl’s and Plato’s Closet will require masks to be worn by customers. Best Buy, Menards and Starbucks have already put those policies into effect.
The National Retail Federation, a trade association that advocates for the industry, released a statement on Wednesday urging retailers to adopt face-covering policies and applauded national chains that have already done so. The NRF said retail workers should not have to worry about their health because some people refuse to wear masks.
“Shopping in a store is a privilege, not a right,” the NRF said. “If a customer refuses to adhere to store policies, they are putting employees and other customers at undue risk.”
Verizion, Dollar Tree, All Pets Animal Hospital, Andy's Harley Davidson and Bath & Body Works are only some of the other businesses in Grand Forks that are requiring customers to wear masks.
The adoption of a mask policy means workers will have to implement it. Walmart will place employees at entrances to remind customers they need to wear a mask to enter. Plato’s Closet in Grand Forks has signs up alerting customers to the upcoming mask-wearing requirement and took to social media to spread the word.
Rory Green, assistant manager at Plato’s Closet, told the Herald, for the most part, customers willingly wear masks coming into the store. Those who don’t have a mask can pick one up when entering. Green said he was a little concerned that customers may object to the policy.
“We've just had a couple of people that, when we said that they were required to wear a mask, they just walked out,” Green said.
In many states across the nation, mask-wearing policies extend beyond retail outlets to government mandates. A July 10 NPR report notes more than 20 states have mask mandates, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
A handful of other states let counties decide on whether or not to require face coverings in public.
Grand Forks County Commissioner Cynthia Pic told the Herald that though the commission has required masks for attendees at River Cities Speedway, there has not been a discussion about making them mandatory throughout the county. Pic said she is aware of the trend in retail to require customers to wear masks, and it's a move she supports.
“I think it's a good idea,” Pic said. "They privately own their businesses, and it's their right to do that.”
For Pic, who also sits on the county board of health, the move couldn’t come soon enough.
“My only thing is I wish they would have done it three months ago,” she said.