Which retailers require customers to wear face masks?

Only four out of 20 major chain stores studied still allow customers to shop without face coverings

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Grace Brombach
Consumer Watchdog Associate

Author: Grace Brombach

Consumer Watchdog Associate

Started on staff: 2019
B.A., cum laude, College of the Holy Cross

Grace lives in Philadelphia, working on product safety issues and promoting better recall effectiveness. Grace loves skiing, visiting her cabin in Minnesota, and finding new restaurants in the city.

These days, putting on a mask to run to the grocery store seems like second nature. As the pandemic has stretched on, many -- but not all -- chain retailers have standardized their mask requirements nationwide to maintain consistency. Some don’t require any mask at all; some chains do but make exceptions for young children and shoppers with medical conditions; and others will not allow anyone to enter without a face covering of some sort.

Along with this variety of policies, major retailers enforce their requirements differently. While some stores including Walmart have employees waiting by the entrance to ensure customers are following the rules, others including CVS say their employees will not question why a customer isn’t wearing a face covering.

You can expect your experience to differ slightly from store-to-store, but knowing the policy of your local retailer during this pandemic could help you avoid an unpleasant shopping experience. We looked at a variety of regional and national chains. Check the list below to see if the major retail chain store near you has a face covering policy, and the details of that policy.

Albertsons

YES -- As of July 21, Albertsons requires customers at all locations to wear face coverings. Albertsons owns 21 companies including Shaws and Safeway.

Aldi

YES -- All customers are required to wear face coverings before entering Aldi stores. Anyone who is unable or refuses to wear a mask is asked to visit shop.aldi.us for grocery delivery and curbside pickup.

Costco

YES -- Since May 4, Costco requires its customers to wear face coverings that cover the nose and mouth. Children under the age of 2 and people who are unable to wear a covering because of a medical condition are exempt.

CVS

YES -- As of July 20, CVS requests its customers to wear face coverings before entering any store location. Store employees will not be asked to enforce this rule, but customers are expected to comply.

Food Lion

NO -- Food Lion “strongly encourages” customers to wear a face covering, but it doesn’t refuse service to those who won’t.

Fresh Grocer

NO -- Fresh Grocer is only requiring its customers to wear face masks or coverings in locations where state or local ordinances require it.

Giant Eagle

YES -- Giant Eagle customers must wear a face mask or cloth face covering that covers the nose and mouth. If a customer is unable to wear one of these options, they can wear a face shield instead.

H-E-B

YES -- H-E-B customers must wear a face covering or mask in locations with and without local ordinances that require it. Children and people with health-related issues are exempt from this rule.

Home Depot

YES -- As of July 22, Home Depot requires customers to wear a mask or face covering. Young children and those with underlying medical conditions are exempt. Store employees are available to provide masks for anyone who needs one.

Kroger

YES -- As of July 22, Kroger requires customers, except small children, to wear masks. Customers who can’t wear masks because of a medical condition are asked to wear a face shield instead or use Kroger’s pickup and delivery services.

Lowe’s

YES -- As of July 20, Lowe’s customers must wear a mask or face covering in stores. Lowe’s provides free masks at the customer service desk for anyone who needs one.

Menards

YES -- Customers are required to wear masks or face coverings while shopping. That includes children, unless they are in someone’s arms or seated in the shopping cart.

Publix

YES -- As of July 21, Publix customers are required to wear masks or face coverings. Publix will provide a mask for anyone who needs one and is handling enforcement on a case-by-case basis.

Target

YES -- Target requires customers to wear masks or face coverings in stores. Young children and those with underlying medical conditions are exempt.

Trader Joe’s

YES -- Trader Joe’s requires customers to wear masks or face coverings in stores. Young children and those with underlying medical conditions are exempt.

Walgreens

YES -- Walgreens requires its customers to wear masks or face coverings in stores. Children under the age of 2 and those with underlying medical conditions are exempt. Store employees will not be asked to enforce this rule, but customers are expected to comply.

Walmart

YES -- As of July 20, all customers are required to wear a face covering. “Health ambassadors” will be stationed near store entrances to enforce this rule.

Wegmans

NO -- Wegmans is requiring its customers to wear face coverings only in stores “in accordance with applicable local or state mandates”. This does not apply to those with medical conditions and Wegmans will not question what that health condition may be.

Whole Foods

YES -- As of July 20, Whole Foods requires customers to wear face coverings while shopping, and will provide face masks at the entrance of all stores for those who need one.

Winn-Dixie

NO -- Winn-Dixie encourages but does not require face masks. The store says it does not want to “cause undue friction between [its] customers and associates by regulating mask mandates, and [it] strongly encourages state officials to lead the way in regulating these types of safety mandates.”

Grace Brombach
Consumer Watchdog Associate

Author: Grace Brombach

Consumer Watchdog Associate

Started on staff: 2019
B.A., cum laude, College of the Holy Cross

Grace lives in Philadelphia, working on product safety issues and promoting better recall effectiveness. Grace loves skiing, visiting her cabin in Minnesota, and finding new restaurants in the city.