Best Buy, the Richfield, Minnesota-based retailer that specializes in selling consumer electronics, is the latest company in the United States to enforce a mask mandate upon its customers.
“This new requirement, which starts July 15, will help protect not only our shoppers and communities, but also the tens of thousands of Best Buy employees working to serve our customers each day,” said the company in a press release on Tuesday.
In their announcement, Best Buy stated employees will be on hand to provide maks to customers who don’t have one. Exemptions to this mask mandate will be given to small children and people unable to wear a face-covering for legitimate health reasons.
For customers who have concerns about the mandatory wearing of face masks, the company said that they should consider shopping online and through their smartphone app. Customers who do so will be able to get their products delivered straight to their home, or they can avail of the curbside pickup option available at all of their locations.
A representative from Best Buy said that the company will be employing a “designated, specially-trained employee” at each store who will be welcoming customers and reminding them of the company’s policy about wearing masks if they do not meet the exemption criteria.
“Best Buy believes relevant statewide policies requiring masks are an appropriate public health response in protecting frontline retail workers and customers from the growing spread of COVID-19,” the company’s press release further stated.
Best Buy joins a growing list of corporations that have imposed mask mandates on their customers. Some of these corporations include Costco, which began requiring its members to wear masks at the beginning of May, and Starbucks, which announced that they will be requiring customers to wear facial coverings upon entering all of their over 9,000 stores in the U.S. starting on July 15.
Meanwhile, on July 13, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said that enforcing a mask mandate was “on their minds” and that they were heavily considering doing so.
As companies look to implement mask mandates for shoppers in their stores, labor unions and industry groups are also calling for state governments to implement the same.
Among the loudest voices lobbying these mandate are members of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), a trade group that represents a number of major businesses in America – including Best Buy – and the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union, which represents around 1.3 million workers from a variety of industries including retail, meatpacking and food processing, in both the U.S. and Canada.
The RILA recently published a letter sent to the National Governors Association, asking the latter to mandate the wearing face coverings by customers at all times inside their stores. (Related: Harvard doctor wants U.S. to enforce national mask mandate; Surgeon General says order may lead to REBELLION.)
They said that the patchwork of different regulations around the country is confusing shoppers about whether or not they have to wear a mask. This in turn has led to an escalation in the number of heated – and sometimes physically violent – altercations between workers trying to enforce store rules and customers who feel that their individual rights have been violated.
“Retailers are alarmed with the instances of hostility and violence frontline employees are experiencing by a vocal minority of customers who are under the misguided impression that wearing a mask is a violation of their civil liberties,” said Brian Dodge, president of the RILA.
One such incident led to the killing of a security guard at a Family Dollar store in Flint, Michigan after a customer got angry over being told that his daughter needed to wear a mask.
While the federal government has not instituted any form of national mask mandate, many agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended that everybody should wear some kind of cloth face-covering whenever they are out in public.
Currently, less than half of U.S. states have instituted some kind of mask mandate, and while some county and city governments have issued their own mandates, these are not as comprehensive as a statewide order.
The National Governors Association said that its members were discussing the letter and other similar pleas from other retail groups.
Learn more about measures to stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus by following Pandemic.news.