List of National Retail Chains Requiring Masks Is Growing

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NEW YORK — Two major retailers on Thursday joined the growing list of national chains that will require customers to wear face masks regardless of where cities or states stand on the issue. 

Target’s mandatory face mask policy will go into effect Aug. 1, and all CVS stores will begin requiring them on Monday. 

More than 80% of Target’s 1,800 stores already require customers to wear masks due to local and state regulations. Target will hand out masks at entrances to those who need them.

The announcements come one day after the nation’s largest retailer, Walmart, said that it would mandate face coverings for all customers starting Monday. 

Starbucks, Best Buy, Kohl’s and Kroger Co. have also announced mandatory masks nationwide. 

Retailers have hesitated to make masks mandatory nationwide out of fear of angering some customers over what, even in a pandemic, has become a political issue. 

They have been reluctant to put employees in the position of becoming enforcers. Confrontations with customers and store employees have played out in multiple incidents caught on video. 

It was difficult to enforce such rules even in states that mandate face masks. But the recent surge of new virus cases — particularly in Florida, California, Texas and Arizona — has left them with no choice, retail experts say.

“To be clear, we’re not asking our store employees to play the role of enforcer,” said Jon Roberts, the chief operating officer at CVS. “What we are asking is that customers help protect themselves and those around them by listening to the experts and heeding the call to wear a face covering.”

In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has resisted calls for such a mandate, saying he doesn’t want to install a rule “that is unenforceable.” But he eventually endorsed a model ordinance cities could adopt that requires masks in public places that does not contain penalties for violations.

On Wednesday, he said his administration was continuing to evaluate a statewide mandate.

“We’re moving in the right direction. As to whether we need a statewide mandate, that will continue to be evaluated and if we do it, you’ll know about it,” Hutchinson told reporters.

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