Grocery store workers are poking and prodding shop owners into coming down hard on customers who don’t wear masks while shopping for groceries.
Major grocery chains are not yet banning people without masks, but worker advocate groups are pushing for more aggressive actions on that front, according to a CNN report Thursday. Some stores want to avoid blowing up over the issue for fear of antagonizing their customers who can shop in other areas with less stringent policies.
Everyone should be required to wear masks, according to Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: The US Relies On Chinese Imports To Produce PPE)
“Keeping grocery stores safe for both customers and workers means everyone must wear masks,” Perrone told CNN. “We are urging both elected leaders and grocery chains to make masks mandatory for both customers and workers.”
Roughly 60% of respondents said they wear masks on their faces while outside their homes, according to an April 17 Gallup survey.
Large store chains are stopping short of calling out non-masked customers.
“It can be a bit more difficult to enforce this requirement in parts of the country where it’s not mandatory,” a Walmart spokesperson told CNN before noting that the mega store wants to “avoid situations that may create a confrontation.”Government officials began implementing stay-at-home orders in March to slow down the spread of coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, before eventually hitting the United States, where it has killed more than 45,000 people. The lockdowns have not come without a steep price. More than 26 million people filed for unemployment in less than a month.
Workers are worried about what they say is the lax attitude toward such masks.
“They allow the customers to freely walk around the store without masks,” Dionna Richardson, a cashier at Ralph’s grocery store in Los Angeles, told CNN.
Ralph’s was not enforcing Los Angeles’s regulation that all customers wear such personal protective equipment, she said.
Richardson, a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, also said her store manager scolded her when she asked a customer to wear a mask.
“I was told that it was none of my business and that I was not the mask police,” she told CNN.
A Ralph’s representative, without commenting on Richardson’s claim, told CNN that the store requires customers to cover their faces.
California-based Nugget Market seemingly took face masks to the extreme.
“I know this might upset a few of you and I apologize in advance, but this will offer all of us the most protection!” Nugget CEO Eric Stille said in an April 8 statement. “Extreme times call for extreme measures and I feel this is what’s best to help curb the spread of the virus and protect us all.”
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