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Stores report they’re not “enforcing mask orders”

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Many stores now require masks, but not all enforce the policy.

Even without enforcement, 84 of a random sample of 100 Lowe’s shoppers were seen wearing masks as they entered the Milledgeville store last week. This does not count employees who had masks in their hands or around their necks, or masks covering only their mouths.

Lowe’s announced on July 17 that customers are required to wear masks in all stores, but that employees would not enforce the policy in order to avoid conflict with customers. The policy became effective July 20. If a customer needs a mask, stores nationwide will provide masks for free as long as supplies last.

“As a retailer offering essential goods, we have a responsibility to our associates, customers and small businesses in communities nationwide to help provide a safe shopping experience,” said Lowe’s president and CEO Marvin R. Ellison a press release. “For the safety of everyone in our stores, we ask that customers wear masks, and to make this new standard less restrictive, we will make masks available to those who need them.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Lowe’s has encouraged social distancing like most other large retailers. There has been and will continue to be signage reminding customers of social distancing, hand washing and masks. There are also marks on the floor so customers can stand at least six feet apart.

Walmart generally is singing the same tune. A training video, complete with animated Walmart employees and upbeat background music, recently leaked online. According to the training video, Walmart employees are instructed to “encourage” customers to wear a mask, but also are instructed to “still allow them to continue into the store.” The video also instructs employees to “never engage with a customer physically and do not block their entrance.”

Meanwhile, Dollar General’s “COVID-19 Efforts” web page makes no reference to a mask policy.

Relative to Milledgeville, here’s a list of other retailers enacting mask policies:

Aldi – began on July 27

CVS – began on July 20