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Jul 16, 2020
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NRF urges retailers to adopt nationwide mask policy

Jul 16, 2020

The National Retail Federation (NRF) released a statement on Wednesday encouraging retailers to implement a nationwide policy requiring customers to wear masks during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, Walmart became the largest U.S.-based retailer to implement a nationwide mask policy - Photo: Shutterstock

“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,” said the organization. “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.”

The federation’s call comes on the same day as Walmart’s announcement that it is becoming the largest U.S.-based retailer to enforce a nationwide policy that requires customers to wear masks when in store, a decision that NRF said it hoped would be “a tipping point in this public health debate.”

“Since the onset of the pandemic, retailers of all sizes have been on the front lines safely serving customers and supporting their communities. Stores are private businesses that can adopt policies permitted by law for the health and safety of their associates and their customers,” added the organization. “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.”
Two weeks ago, NRF co-signed a letter with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and other industry groups, requesting that President Trump, Vice President Pence and governors across the U.S. take the lead in coming up with a national standard for wearing masks in public spaces.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, facemasks have become a contentious topic in the United States. With Trump taking an early stand against the article of protective equipment, the choice to wear a mask or not rapidly took on a political dimension, even if a number of senior Republicans have changed their tune over the last few weeks and come out in support of wearing them in public. Trump himself recently told Fox News that he is “all for masks.”
In the absence of a nationwide policy, more than 20 states have issued statewide orders requiring people to wear masks in public spaces, but two of the states that have been worst hit by the pandemic – Florida and Arizona – still have not. Many of the statewide orders that have been implemented are also facing legal challenges.

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