The list of retailers requiring shoppers to wear face masks is growing each day, while the coronavirus is showing no indication of petering out anytime soon.
Target is among the retailers now mandating that shoppers don facial coverings before they will be allowed to enter their stores. The mass discounter’s new policy goes into effect on Aug. 1. It joins Walmart and its warehouse membership operation Sam’s Club, as well as Kohl’s Stores, which said face masks would be required of their customers beginning Monday. American Eagle Outfitters has also instituted a similar requirement. Many of the others mandating face masks are big-box chains, such as Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s. Fellow membership club Costco was among the first of the major retailers to mandate face masks, beginning on May 4.
Earlier this month, the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) published an open letter asking President Trump to take a stand on the matter. “If we do not require widespread use of face masks in enclosed public spaces, we will likely endure additional widespread business shutdowns,” AAFA CEO Steve Lamar wrote in his letter.
There’s a growing perception, backed by medical experts such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that wearing face masks in enclosed areas would help curb the spread of the COVID-19, pandemic.
In New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo went a step further, mandating on July 1 that indoor shopping centers install coronavirus-filtering air conditioning systems before they can reopen their doors. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at the time also pulled back pulled back on plans to reinstate indoor dining, given the alarming rise in coronavirus infections in the southern and western parts of the U.S., just as the city was about to start Phase Three.
And on Friday, de Blasio, along with Cuomo’s office, again nixed plans to allow for indoor dining and mall shopping as the city moves forward into Phase Four on Monday. That means that indoor shopping meccas such as Columbus Circle, Hudson Yards and the Westfield and Brookfield malls in downtown Manhattan will remain closed. Indoor food courts, such as Chelsea Market, also remain closed, but vendors are able to set up outdoor locations for takeout orders.
The precautions appear warranted. According to the latest live update from The Washington Post, the country is reporting more than 70,000 new coronavirus infections each day. Masks are mandatory in more than half of states nationwide. Cuomo has been sounding the alarm on how New Yorkers must remain vigilant given the amount of travel to New York by residents from other states.
Elsewhere, India has hit 1 million cases, forcing the country to go back into lockdown. A second surge in cases has cropped up in Iran, while Tokyo and Hong Kong on Thursday saw daily records for new coronavirus cases. Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, reported an outbreak earlier in the month that raised concern, sending the entire state of Victoria back into a lockdown that is still in effect.