Walmart and Sam's Club are now requiring associates to wear masks and other face coverings at work in all stores, clubs, distribution centers, fulfillment centers and corporate offices.
This new policy is a shift from the company's original guidance on April 9, which gave employees the option. Associates can bring their own face coverings if they meet certain criteria, or they will be provided with masks to wear after passing their associate health screenings and temperature checks for the day.
The company is not requiring face coverings for shoppers at this time, instead "encouraging customers and members" to wear them.
"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," John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. and Kath McLay, president and CEO of Sam’s Club, wrote to employees. "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."
Walmart is also extending its emergency leave policy through the end of May. The new policy that makes it easier for associates to stay home when sick was announced March 10, with an original culmination at the end of April. The situation, of course, has evolved since then.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, and ecommerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. The company is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.