INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Even though store customers are not required by county officials to wear masks, two giant retail chains announced Wednesday face coverings will soon be required for shoppers.
Walmart and Sam’s Club officials said in social media posts and on their websites that all customers will have to mask up at all of its locations, starting Monday. The stores said the announcement will give them time to inform customers of the changes, post signage and train employees on new safety protocols.
“While we’re certainly not the first business to require face coverings, we know this is a simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities,” both stores said in a joint statement.
The move comes as an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which has spiked throughout the country in the last few weeks, including Florida. Locally, Sebastian and Vero Beach both have Walmart Supercenters, along with a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Vero Beach.
Vero Beach also has a Sam’s Club.
Your safety, as always, is our number one priority. Thank you for masking up! pic.twitter.com/9TvarPqJun
— Sam's Club (@SamsClub) July 15, 2020
“As the number of confirmed cases has spiked in communities across the country recently, so too have the number and types of face covering mandates being implemented,” both stores said on their websites. “Currently about 65 percent of our more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings.”
Health ambassadors will be stationed near the front of Walmart and Sam’s Club stores to help customers. All stores will have a single entrance, officials said.
Complimentary masks will be given to customers who don’t have one. The stores will work with those who cannot wear face coverings.
Walmart is an American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores and grocery stores throughout the U.S. The retail giant owns and operates Sam’s Club retail stores.
To best serve our communities and protect the health and safety of our shoppers and associates, face coverings will be required in all stores beginning Monday, July 20. For more on our decision and policy, please see here: https://t.co/r2ijRqslNP pic.twitter.com/pKYQCzk48l
— Walmart (@Walmart) July 15, 2020
The announcement comes one day after Indian River County officials voted against a proposed mandatory mask ordinance for customers and the general public. The ordinance required masks for anyone visiting public indoor facilities where it’s difficult to social distance, along with outdoor spaces where more than 50 people are gathered, including festivals.
On June 29, the county implemented an emergency order, requiring masks for those visiting indoor county facilities, riding the Go-Line Bus, and employees at businesses that serve the public. The order did not require customers or the general public to mask up.
But, the regulation states businesses can make their own mandatory mask rules. The emergency order will expire when the local state of emergency ends, county officials said.
Other municipalities in the county are making their own decisions about mandatory mask mandates. Vero Beach, Fellsmere and Sebastian require those visiting indoor facilities, including city hall, to wear masks.
Masks will be provided to those who don’t have one, officials said.