Kohl's, Kroger join Walmart, Sam's Club in nationwide coronavirus mask mandate

Move comes following push for nationwide mask policy from the National Retail Federation

Kohl's and Kroger are following suit with rivals Walmart and Sam's Club, announcing they will require all customers to wear masks while shopping in stores in response to a surge in coronavirus cases throughout the country.

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TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
KRKROGER33.53+0.10+0.30%
KSSKOHL'S CORP.19.45-0.39-1.97%
WMTWALMART INC.137.27+0.57+0.42%

Kohl's said their mask mandate will begin at stores nationwide starting July 20.

"As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, face covering mandates have grown to apply to approximately 70% of our store base, therefore we’ve made the decision to take a consistent approach across our entire store fleet," the company said in a statement.

The retailer said that there will be signage at the front of the store informing customers of the mask policy, and that store associates have been placed at store entrances to welcome shoppers and remind them to wear masks.

Customers who prefer not to shop in store are encouraged to use the company's new limited-contact Store Drive-Up service or place delivery orders online at Kohls.com.

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Meanwhile, Kroger's mask policy will take effect on July 22.

"As an employer, grocery provider and community partner, we have a responsibility to help keep our associates, customers and communities safe," the company said in a statement. "We are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country."

The company added that they "respect and acknowledge that some customers, due to medical reasons, may not be able to wear a mask" and encourage them to consider an alternative option such as a face shield or facial covering.

If customers are unable to wear a mask, Kroger is requesting that they use the grocer's pickup or delivery services.

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The move by Kohl's and Kroger comes after an announcement from Walmart and Sam's Club earlier Wednesday that they would institute a coronavirus mask policy starting July 20.

"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. To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering," the retail giant said in a blog post.

Walmart created a new Health Ambassador role to ensure customers are wearing face coverings and to "work with customers who show up at a store without a face covering to try and find a solution."

Photo courtesy of Kroger

Associates from Kohl's, Kroger, Walmart, and Sam's Club have all been required to wear a facial covering while working in stores in addition to social distancing guidelines that have been put in place.

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Kohl's, Kroger's, Walmart and Sam's Club are the latest to institute the policy, joining a growing list that includes StarbucksBest Buy, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Apple, Qurate Retail Group, and Costco.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
SBUXSTARBUCKS CORPORATION84.30+1.26+1.52%
BBYBEST BUY105.97+1.20+1.15%
BJBJS WHSL CLUB HLDGS INC40.17-0.57-1.40%
AAPLAPPLE INC.112.28+4.06+3.75%
QRTEAQURATE RETAIL7.16+0.12+1.70%
COSTCOSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION342.58-4.42-1.27%

The National Retail Federation has called on all retailers nationwide to institute a mask policy.

"Stores are private businesses that can adopt policies permitted by law for the health and safety of their associates and their customers," the NRF said. "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."

In addition, the organization sent a letter to President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, asking them to "set politics aside and follow their example."

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Pressure is also coming from the hotel industry who announced a similar push for a nationwide mask policy.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association sent letters to the Trump administration, National Governor's Association, and the United States Conference of Mayors on Wednesday urging "a consistent standard practice across all 50 states."

"We are grateful to the more than two dozen governors and numerous mayors who have standardized the use of face coverings in all indoor public spaces and we strongly encourage your fellow elected leaders to follow suit by expanding face covering requirements," AHLA president and CEO Chip Rogers said in a statement. "The use of face covering by guests in hotels will instill confidence with other guests and employees that every hotel is a safe place to visit and work. We believe that governors and mayors play the leading role in promoting the use of face coverings to help halt the spread of COVID-19."

According to the latest update from Johns Hopkins University, there are 3.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 136,000 deaths in the United States. More than 1 million people have recovered from the virus.

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Fox Business' Evie Fordham contributed to this report.