Amazon-owned Whole Foods will provide grocery shoppers with free single-use masks at all its stores beginning this week.
In keeping with the chain’s “request” that all shoppers wear masks inside stores to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the company’s 500 stores will make the masks available at entrances to customers who lack their own face covering, the company announced in a blog post.
Amazon plans to provide more than 100 million masks to its extensive commercial network, according to the post.
“We have enough mask inventory to cover our entire operations and stores network, and we are requiring everyone working in our facilities to take and use them,” the company stated. Whole Foods already had been providing masks to employees.
Whole Foods’ move to provide, but not require, masks for shoppers comes days after Costco announced it will require shoppers to wear masks in its warehouses starting Monday.
The Costco announcement prompted blowback on social media from some customers upset by the requirement.
Other local grocers, including Trader Joe’s and PCC Community Markets, have stopped short of a mandate, saying they “strongly encourage” shoppers to wear face masks.
Large-scale food chains, including Walmart/Sam’s Club, WinCo and Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer stores, have announced face-mask requirements and other safety measures for store employees, but have yet to issue mask requirements for shoppers.
Public-health officials continue to encourage the public to wear face masks in all public settings.
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