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“Safety has been and continues to be our priority," Steve Salazar, Lowe's spokesman, told FOX Business via email. "We will not ask our associates to put their safety at risk by confronting customers about wearing masks, so we are consistently requesting that customers wear masks for the safety of everyone in our stores.”
The stores will place signs at entrances and will provide free facemasks at customer service desks and the store policies will continue to reinforce social distancing guidelines by making public address announcements, adding signs and using store employees, Salazar said.
Lowe's decision not to use employees to enforce facemask requirements comes at a time when wearing face coverings have become a contentious debate among those who are in favor of the personal protective equipment to slow the spread of COVID-19 and those who are against it because they view the mandatory wear policies as an infringement of their rights.
Lowe’s face mask policy went into effect nationwide on Monday, July 20, according to the company. The chain explained that it implemented the policy because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to say that PPE are effective at curbing coronavirus transmissions.
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More than 3.9 million Americans have been infected by the novel coronavirus thus far, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard, which has been recording data since late January. Despite the steadily climbing number of infections, some Americans are refusing to comply with face mask orders.
Organized anti-mask protests have been held throughout the country in recent weeks in addition to individual standoffs — some of which led to violent behavior.
In early May, a security guard by the name of Calvin Munerlyn was shot and killed in a Michigan Family Dollar store after he asked three customers to wear a face mask when the came in the shop.
Several other retailers have had verbal or physical altercations with maskless customers. Videos of the fights have "gone viral" on social media, including one recording of a Fort Myers man who had a loud and expletive-filled confrontation with shoppers who wanted him to wear a mask while he walked through a Costco Wholesale store in Florida.
Although Lowe’s will not require its retail workers to enforce face mask rules for safety reasons, the company’s store associates have been required to wear face masks since May.