CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Kroger announced Wednesday it will soon require all customers to wear masks in its stores nationwide.
The mask requirement will go into effect July 22, the company said in a statement on Twitter:
“With the increases in [COVID-19] cases across the country, we are committed to doing our part to help reduce the spread of the virus. Starting July 22, we will require all customers in all locations to wear a mask, joining our associates who continue to wear masks.”
Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery chain, began requiring all employees to wear masks in late April.
A statement issued early Wednesday evening by a Kroger spokesperson cites the CDC as saying masks, combined with social distancing and frequent hand-washing, can reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The statement also says those who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons are encouraged to wear face shields or use Kroger’s pickup or delivery services instead.
The full statement is included at the end of this article.
It remains unclear whether the requirement will apply only to Kroger stores or The Kroger Company’s umbrella of stores, which includes brands such as Harris Teeter and Mariano’s.
The announcement comes hours after Walmart and Sam’s Club said they will require all customers to wear masks in their stores beginning July 20.
Walmart said it will have an employee dedicated to enforcing the company’s requirements at store entrances.
Kroger did not provide information on how or whether it will enforce the mask requirement.
In other parts of the nation, pandemic measures including mask mandates are being reimposed as confirmed cases of the virus surge.
With the increase in COVID-19 cases across the country—as America’s grocer—we are committed to doing our part to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Kroger’s most urgent priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been to provide a safe environment for our associates and customers while meeting our societal obligation to provide open stores, ecommerce solutions and an efficiently operating supply chain so that our communities have access to fresh, affordable food and essentials.
As an employer, grocery provider and community partner, we have a responsibility to help keep our associates, customers and communities safe. According to the CDC, wearing a facial covering, combined with social distancing and frequent handwashing, has been scientifically proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Starting July 22, we will require all customers in all locations to wear a mask when shopping in our stores, joining our associates who continue to wear masks. We are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country.
We respect and acknowledge that some customers, due to medical reasons, may not be able to wear a mask (small children are exempt). We encourage those customers to consider an alternative option like a face shield or facial covering. If they’re unable to wear a mask or an alternative design, we request that they use our ecommerce services like pickup or delivery. To support all households during the COVID-19 pandemic, our grocery pickup service remains free (generally a $4.95 fee).
We thank our associates and customers for partnering with us to slow down the spread of COVID-19.