[Editor’s note: Updated as of July 30, 2020.]
Stores are instating pandemic-era dress code updates for customers.
A growing number of the country’s grocers, retailers, and restaurants are requiring patrons to wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while in their physical locations.
“I'm surprised that it took so long,” said Jan Rogers Kniffen, a retail expert and CEO of J Rogers Kniffen WWE, a consulting firm. “I thought every store would have a sign saying, ‘No shoes, no shirt, no mask, no service’ [long] ago.”
Despite the consensus from the medical community and endorsement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the efficacy of face masks in curbing the spread, there is still no federal mandate to wear a face mask in public. Any regulation remains at the discretion of state governments.
“Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus, particularly when used universally within a community setting,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a press release.
The stores’ mandates supersede the state and local governments in some parts of the country where bare faces are still permitted in public. Here’s the list of stores and restaurants where face masks are required.
Athleta (beginning Aug. 1)
Banana Republic (beginning Aug. 1)
Bed Bath and Beyond
BJ’s Wholesale Club
Gap (beginning Aug. 1)
Intermix (beginning Aug. 1)
Janie and Jack (beginning Aug. 1)
McDonald’s (beginning Aug. 1)
Old Navy (beginning Aug. 1)
Target (beginning Aug. 1)
Can retailers expect a backlash?
In mask-wary regions of the country, the notion of being required to wear a face mask to shop in a particular store has the potential to be construed as a rights infringement. To that end, stores’ requirements also could be interpreted as a retailer’s political leaning or attitude.
Kniffen mentioned the possibilities of in-store incidents with non-compliant shoppers or a protest, but ultimately sales won’t be affected nor will “any significant number of shoppers” change their shopping habits because they oppose the ruling at their favorite store.
He noted this is a growing trend and as more retailers institute the rule “ it will become less and less of an issue” and retailers shouldn’t be “concerned,” he said.
His one suggestion: Offering free, disposable masks for customers who don’t have their own. “Otherwise they will be turning people away at the door,” he said.
When will this end?
Not for a while, according to Kniffen.
The trend is at its beginning stages and will only disappear when “COVID-19 is no longer the lead story in every newspaper and news show in the country.”
“My guess [is] the end of this year...at the latest the end of the first quarter of 2021,” he said.
Read more information and tips in our Spending section