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The nation's largest retailer currently requires associates but not customers to wear masks. Louisiana joined more than 20 other states Saturday in requiring residents to wear a face mask in public.
"Our COVID-19 protocols have continued to adapt during the pandemic in response to evolving research and mandates spanning the country," a spokesperson for Walmart told FOX Business. "Additional safety changes took effect July 9 to expand our efforts in reminding customers of the importance and necessity of wearing face coverings in our stores."
In a press briefing on Friday, Albany County executive Dan McCoy expressed his frustration at Walmart for a lack of enforcement of the mask policy during a recent visit to a local Walmart. He also questioned why America's largest retailer didn't implement the health ambassadors sooner.
"They've been open for the whole 18 weeks," McCoy said. "You have closed mom and pops businesses that could have stayed open through this whole crisis and could have done the right thing, and weren't allowed to because what? They weren't smart enough? They weren't healthy enough? But the fact that we're still talking about Walmart and Target and Sam's Club and it's 18 weeks into it, and now they're gonna do this? Where were they 18 weeks ago? Making profits when the little stores, the backbone of our community, were struggling."
McCoy gave the company a sarcastic thumbs up for "doing the right thing."
"I just find it ironic,” he added. "I can't even comment anymore on it when they bring it up because it's just, it’s not even laughable. The fact that, you know, they're going to do all this stuff 18 weeks later? Thanks, Walmart. Thank you for rolling up your sleeves and doing the right thing."
Walmart said that they "strongly encourage all customers to adhere to the decisions made by local officials regarding the use of protective facial coverings because we all need to do our part in the interest of public health."
"Store management is working with local law enforcement to understand how to best partner with them on any concerns that arise as a result of the local/state face covering mandate," the spokesperson added.
The move comes after multiple videos have gone viral of Walmart employees refusing service to maskless patrons in localities where masks are mandatory in stores.
In addition to the new health ambassadors, the retailer said there are signs posted at store entrances informing customers of mandatory mask orders, as well as other signage enforcing social distancing. The company has also "repurposed third party resources" to help remind customers of the importance of facial coverings at entrances.
All customers are also required to enter the store through a single entrance.