Jul 17, 2020
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The home improvement retailer said Friday that customers must wear masks inside all U.S. stores beginning Wednesday, July 22. However, small children and those who have a valid medical condition will not have to wear them. Customers not wearing masks because of a medical condition are asked to speak with an associate before entering the store, the company says.
Home Depot joins a slew of retailers including Walmart, Target, CVS, and Walgreens set to mandate masks at stores nationwide as cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, continue to rise in the U.S.
The requiring of masks and facial coverings has become a hot button nationally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends them as way to prevent the spread of the virus, but some consider mask mandates as a violation against their constitutional rights.
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As states have begun to reopen and ease social distancing requirements, the wearing of masks in public has incited some violent confrontations in stores. As state and cities enact differing regulations on masks, retailers have started taking the lead in mandating mask in their locations nationwide.
Home Depot is headquartered in Atlanta, which is ground zero for a national debate on mask mandates. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday sued the Atlanta City Council and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for requiring citizens to wear face masks in public.
The retailer says about 85% of its stores already require customers to wear face masks due to local and state regulations. Home Depot workers already wear masks in stores, distribution centers, and other locations, the company says.
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Within stores, social distancing is promoted with audio announcements, floor markings and signs; plexiglass shields separate employees and shoppers.
“We appreciate all of our associates who have been working so hard to serve our customers with the essential products they need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we want to thank our customers for their cooperation as we work to protect everyone in our stores,” said Ann-Marie Campbell, Home Depot's executive vice president of stores, in a statement.
Store staffers will provide masks to incoming shoppers who do not have one and, for those who prefer, the store offers home delivery and curbside pickup through its HomeDepot.com website.
Contributing: Kelly Tyko, Jessica Flores, Joel Shannon
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.