Prince Rupert Walmart will implement a mandatory facial mask policy for all staff and customers on August 12, 2020 as part of a national mandate by the chain-store. Some other local stores are waiting to see how the situation goes with Walmart, given there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Prince Rupert. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Walmart to implement mandatory masks

Some Prince Rupert stores are waiting to see how Walmart fares before making a mask decision

Larger Prince Rupert businesses are not implementing a mandatory mask policy for the time being and are waiting to see how things pan out after Walmart announced face masks will be mandatory in all stores across the nation starting Aug. 12 due to COVID-19.

“Safety continues to be Walmart’s number one priority and we will continue to take measures necessary to ensure the well-being of our customers and associates,” Felicia Fefer, manager of corporate affairs for Walmart Canada told The Northern View.

“For this reason, and to help bring more consistency across our store network, starting August 12, 2020, we are now requiring all customers and associates working in any Walmart store not already subject to a local government mandate to wear a mask or face covering in areas of our stores accessible to the public,” she said.

Customers will be expected to provide and wear their own facial masks while in the Prince Rupert Walmart store.

Home Hardware store manager Maria Melo said that masks are not mandatory in the independently owned Prince Rupert store and if there were confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Prince Rupert it may be a different scenario, however they welcome the use of masks.

Melo said they already have screens in place at the customer service checkouts and it is ‘up in the air’ if they will implement mandatory masks.

“We will follow suit,” Melo said speaking of the new Walmart policy. “If it has to be done. We will.”

The local Rona store holds a similar position to Home Hardware. Sharon Rothwell, store manager said they will watch how issues progress with the Walmart implementation.

Rothwell said Rona ‘did things right from the first day’, by installing plexi-glass screens, and adding heightened cleaning procedures as soon as they could.

“We have clear protocols in place that are renewed daily,” Rothwell said. “We are in discussion right now regarding masks.”

Save-0n-Food told The Northern View that they will continue to rely on the expertise of credible health authorities including the World Health Organization, Centre for Disease Control, and local, provincial and federal governments to guide us through this pandemic.

”We have standard operating procedures that comply with and often exceed provincial health requirements. While we have made masks available to team members, at this time we have not mandated their use for team members or customers,” the media relations for the grocery store said.

As for Walmart, customers have done a great job following face covering requirements in those jurisdictions where it is mandated by the local government, Fefer said.

“We trust that customers in the rest of our stores where we are initiating this policy will respect and follow it and will bring their own face coverings when they shop.”

Walmart will continue to take measures to ensure the well-being of customers and associates, such as wellness checks that include a temperature check for all associates at the start of each shift; increased cleaning throughout the stores; limiting the number of customers shopping in the store at one time; cleaning shopping carts; encouraging regular handwashing and staff to regularly clean their work areas (including checkouts); installing plexi-glass dividers at registers, customer service desks and in the pharmacy as well as introducing floor markings and one-way aisles to create physical distancing.

The Northern View contacted Safeway, Shoppers Drug Mart and Dollarama who did not respond for comment.

K-J Millar | Journalist
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