Amazon-owned Whole Foods said in a blog post Thursday that it plans to make disposable masks available to all customers in its stores within the next week, and will be asking all shoppers to wear masks when visiting.
In a statement, the company said: “To help protect the safety and health of our team members and communities, we will be requesting customers wear masks in Whole Foods Market stores. Within the next week, we will be offering free, disposable masks to all Whole Foods Market customers nationwide when they arrive at the store to shop. If customers don’t already have their own face covering, they will be able to pick up a mask at the entrance of the Whole Foods Market store.”
Whole Foods retail employees were among the first in the nation to receive personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks and shields from their company. However, employees are responsible for bringing the equipment to work daily, maintaining its cleanliness, and wearing it throughout their entire shifts.
In the blog post, the company said it anticipates spending upward of $800 million in the first half of the year on “masks, hand sanitizer, thermal cameras, thermometers, sanitizing wipes, gloves, additional handwashing stations, and adding disinfectant spraying in buildings, procuring COVID testing supplies, additional janitorial teams, and more.”
Earlier in April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the use of facial coverings, like homemade masks and cloth bandannas, for public outings to reduce the risk of transmission between people in close proximity.
A handful of retailers that have mandated masks be worn while shopping have had trouble turning customers who wish not to away, according to a report by CNN. There are currently no legal repercussions in any state for not wearing a mask while in public. However, many people are facing “corona-shaming” in public and on social media for not abiding by government health guidelines.
There are more than 500 Whole Foods stores across the U.S. Costco made a similar announcement Wednesday, saying select stores will be turning away customers if they are not wearing the proper protective equipment starting Monday.