KANSAS CITY, MO. - On July 16, several retailers including Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix, Minneapolis-based Target and St. Louis-based Schnucks joined an already growing list of retailers that will implement masks requirements in retail stores.  

Starting on July 21, customers at all Publix locations will be required to use face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside the store. Schnuck’s policy will go into effect on July 20 and will have team members available at store entrances to help customers understand the requirements. 

“From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we moved quickly to respond to the ever-changing environment and prioritize safety and cleanliness in our stores,” said Todd Schnuck, Schnucks chairman and chief exeucitve officer. “We have been monitoring this situation closely and given the escalating number of positive COVID-19 cases in the regions we serve, we believe requiring masks for teammates, vendors and, now, customers is in the best interest of public safety.” 

Target’s face mask policy will go into effect on Aug. 1. 

"This builds on the more than 80% of our stores that already require guests to wear face coverings due to local and state regulations," Target said. The retailer plans to hand out masks to customers who don’t have one at the entrances of its stores. 

The announcements from Publix, Schnucks and Target come shortly after Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart and Sam’s Club and Cincinnati-based Kroger also released instore mask requirements for customers on July 15. 

“As the number of confirmed cases has spiked in communities across the country recently, so too have the number and types of face covering mandates being implemented,” said Decona Smith, chief operating officer of Walmart US. “Currently about 65% of our more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings. To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering.” 

The mask mandates at Walmart and Sam’s Club locations will begin across the United States on July 20. The retailer has also created a new role of health ambassador at all store locations who will be stationed near the entrance and remind customers about mask requirements. 

Kroger will also begin enforcing its new mask requirements nationwide on July 20. 

"We are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country,” the company said.  

The mask mandates come after the United States is adding an increasing number of COVID-19 cases each day. On July 15, over 65,000 new cases of the virus were diagnosed in the United States, bringing the total of confirmed cases in the US to more than 3.5 million.