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Retailers Should Set Nationwide Mask Policy to Combat COVID-19, Says NRF

The group applauded the policies set by Walmart and others.

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WASHINGTON – The National Retail Federation issued a statement encouraging all retailers to adopt a nationwide policy that requires customers to wear face coverings or masks.

The goal is to protect the health and well-being of customers, associates and partners during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release from the NRF.

“The health and safety of associates and customers is retailers’ number one priority and wearing a face covering or mask is scientifically proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” NRF said in the statement. “NRF applauds the leadership of companies like Walmart, Starbucks, Best Buy, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Apple, Qurate Retail Group, Costco and others that have implemented nationwide mask mandates.”

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The group said it hoped that the recent announcement by Walmart that it would enforce a policy requiring customers to wear a mask to shop in their stores would be a tipping point in this public health debate.

“Workers serving customers should not have to make a critical decision as to whether they should risk exposure to infection or lose their jobs because a minority of people refuse to wear masks in order to help stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus,” NRF stated.

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The group added: “Stores are private businesses that can adopt policies permitted by law for the health and safety of their associates and their customers. Shopping in a store is a privilege, not a right. If a customer refuses to adhere to store policies, they are putting employees and other customers at undue risk.”

A recent letter signed by the NRF, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and other industry groups emphasized the importance of a national mask standard. It was sent to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and governors across the country.

Meanwhile, the Retail Industry Leaders Association is also seeking mandatory masking in every state to combat the pandemic. The group’s president, Brian Dodge, sent a letter to two leaders of the National Governor’s Association: Chair Lawrence J. Hogan Jr., governor of Maryland, and Vice Chair Andrew M. Cuomo, governor of New York. Dodge wrote that a “patchwork of local mandates” for retailers “made it incredibly difficult to focus on implementing the right safety protocols.”

Masks are popular among PETS+ readers. In a recent COVID-19 Impact Survey, we focused on the segment of the pet industry most impacted by government restrictions: grooming salons and grooming departments in pet stores.

We asked, “Are you requiring employees to wear masks?” A combined 76 percent said they do, with 21 percent responding “Yes, at all times” and 55 percent responding “Yes, but only when social distancing can’t be maintained or when engaging with human clients.”

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