Kroger, one of the nation's largest grocery chains, will soon begin requiring customers and staff to wear face coverings in its more than 2,700 locations nationwide. The grocer, headquartered in Cincinnati, says the mask requirement will go into effect July 22.
"With the increase in COVID-19 cases across the country—as America's grocer—we are committed to doing our part to help reduce the spread of the virus," the company writes in a statement.
Small children will be exempt from the requirement. The company is encouraging customers unable to wear a mask because of medical reasons to "consider an alternative option like a face shield or facial covering" or utilize the chain's pick-up or delivery services. Kroger is continuing to waive the the usual $4.95 fee for it's online pick-up service.
"We are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country," the company says. "As an employer, grocery provider and community partner, we have a responsibility to help keep our associates, customers and communities safe. According to the CDC, wearing a facial covering, combined with social distancing and frequent handwashing, has been scientifically proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19."
The mask requirement affects all Kroger-owned brands such as Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, Dillions, City Market, and King Soopers.