Walmart Says They Will Not Make Their Employees Enforce Mask-Wearing in Stores

There is a trend where many stores are adding policies that require employees and customers to wear face coverings while inside the store. Starbucks has jumped on board. So has Walmart. It’s becoming more and more common.

You know what else is becoming more and more common? Those viral videos of irate maskless customers getting physical with store employees, yelling at them, and still refusing to wear a mask. While watching videos like this, we can’t help but worry about the safety of these probably minimum-wage employees. They are putting their lives at risk as angry customers yell at them, and therefore spew possibly COVID-containing germs in their direction.

It doesn’t seem safe for the employees. There has to be a better way to enforce these requirements.

The better way that some stores have landed on is simply not to enforce it. Walmart has said in training videos that employees are not to prevent customers from entering the store if they do not wear a mask. They are to remind customers about the mask policy and to alert management if a customer enters the store without a mask, but they are not to block the customer from entering the store and shopping. Management will offer the customer a face mask, but even if the customer refuses to take or wear the mask, that customer will still be allowed to shop inside the store.

The goal of not enforcing the face mask requirement is to protect the employees. A Walmart spokeswoman told Business Insider, “Our goal is to keep associates from a physical confrontation situation, and our ambassadors will be trained on those exceptions to help reduce friction for the shopper.”

Walmart is not the only store that isn’t enforcing their so-called mask requirement. A representative for Lowes told CNN, “We will not ask our associates to put their safety at risk by confronting customers about wearing masks.”

Is it really a requirement if it isn’t enforced? Stuart Appelbaum is the President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, and he told CNN that stores who created mask requirements but don’t enforce it “never had a requirement. All they had was a public relations stunt.”

If store employees are not responsible for enforcing a face mask requirement, who should be responsible? Joe Caldwell is the director of the Corporate Communications and Government Affairs at Southeastern Grocers, and he believes that the burden of enforcing this requirement should fall on elected officials.

Do you think retail stores should require customers to wear face masks? If so, how do you think they could safely enforce it?