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Kroger, Walmart, Best Buy and other big retailers are making masks mandatory
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Kroger, Walmart, Best Buy and other big retailers are making masks mandatory

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Kroger and Walmart joined other major retailers Wednesday when they announced that they will require shoppers to wear face masks.

The new restriction goes into effect at Walmart on Monday and at Kroger on Wednesday.

“We are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country,”Kroger said in a statement. “We are committed to doing our part to help reduce the spread of the virus.”

Some shoppers say they can’t wear a mask for medical reasons. Kroger suggests those shoppers use a face shield or shop online. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kroger has waived its $4.95 fee for grocery pickups.

Among national chains, Costco and Apple were the first to require face coverings. Best Buy and Starbucks started requiring customers to wear masks this week, and more stores are expected to mandate the practice, which has the support of health experts but has become political for some people.

Major industry groups are encouraging chains to expand masks beyond what local and state officials have recommended.

Watch now: 5 things to know about Pritzker's new COVID response plan

The National Retail Federation on Wednesday called Walmart’s decision “a tipping point in this public health debate” and encouraged other companies to adopt a nationwide policy that requires customers to wear masks.

Walmart, the biggest U.S. retailer, said that about 65% of its more than 5,000 stores and Sam’s Clubs are in areas where some form of government mandate on face coverings is already in place.

“To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering,” Walmart said in a statement.

Walmart is also training employees to be “health ambassadors” who will stand at the front door to remind people without masks of the new requirement.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker outlines targeted approach to COVID-19 spikes in Illinois, lays out criteria for state to take action

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