A wave of U.S. companies announced this week that customers will need to wear masks or facewear in their stores. These include some of the biggest names in retail: Walmart, Kroger, Target, Best Buy, CVS Health, Home Depot and Lowe & # 39; s.
Now these companies and their employees are facing another challenge: getting customers to comply.
Walmart, the country's largest retailer, said starting Monday an employee who is dubbed a "health ambassador" would wear a black polo uniform and stand at the door. Some retailers, such as Home Depot and Target, said they will offer free masks to customers who don't have them. Others, such as CVS Health and Kroger, said they would use signs or business announcements to remind customers of the policy. And many encouraged customers to shop in a different way, for example by picking them up at the side of the road if they don't want to put on a mask or can't wear them for medical reasons.
Still, enforcement can be a challenge. It has already been a problem for retailers because they have reconciled local and state requirements – and in some cases it has escalated into hostile confrontations between employees and buyers.
At least one company, CVS, admitted that it will rely on customers to meet the new requirements.
"To put it bluntly, we are not asking our branch staff to assume the role of executor," said Jon Roberts, chief operating officer, in a statement. "We ask that customers contribute to protecting themselves and their surroundings by listening to the experts and following the call to wear a face covering."
Almost 7 in 10 food workers said that their employers say they don't enforce mask mandates in stores, according to a survey 4,000 United Food and Commercial Workers International Union food workers.
"The main problem here is that a mandate is meaningless – meaningless – without enforcement," said Marc Perrone, president of the union.
The union represents more than 900,000 food workers in well-known chains such as Kroger, Stop & Shop and Albertsons. This also includes employees in nursing homes, meat packaging and food processing plants as well as retailers for clothing such as Macy’s and H&M.
In a phone call to reporters on Friday, Perrone said employers needed to do something else. He called for risk wages to be reinstated for food workers who are at higher risk as coronavirus cases are increasing in most states. He said that workers will also need higher wages if they take on additional expenses such as childcare, and the pandemic threatens whether their children can return to school.
And he said front workers believe the pandemic will get worse. Around 75% of the respondents indicated that there will be a second wave in the fall, which is worse.
According to Perrone, more than 278 union members have died since Friday, including 93 grocers. Almost 30,000 of his workers have fallen ill or been exposed to Covid-19, he said.
The union represents less than a third of all US grocers. It has asked companies, including non-union companies like Walmart and Amazon, to disclose the number of workers who have become ill and have died from Covid-19. The call from Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren, who both expressed their support for the payment of the dangers, followed on Friday.
For months, public health officials have been calling for masks and social distancing to stop the spread of the coronavirus, especially in public places. Centers for disease control and prevention and other federal agencies said face covers prevent sick people, including those who have no symptoms, from spreading the virus to others.
However, retailers have largely hesitated with police customers. Certain factors have begun to force their hand: some local and state governments have requested face coverings in public places. The workers fell ill or raised safety concerns. And during the pandemic, customers had new expectations for security measures, from hand disinfection stations to employees wearing masks and behind plexiglass.
An escalating outbreak from almost coast to coast has raised concerns that companies may be forced to cut or close operations.
Kroger, the largest US supermarket operator, announced the increase in Covid 19 cases in the US when its policies were announced this week. It enters into force on July 22nd.
"We are taking this extra step now because we recognize the need for additional precautions to protect our country," said Kristal Howard, director of corporate communications for the grocer.