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The Real Reason Why Walmart Won't Enforce Wearing a Mask In-Stores

"Our goal is to keep associates from a physical confrontation in the stores."

Last week, Walmart officially instituted its much-publicized policy of requiring all shoppers to wear face masks at all 5,000-plus U.S. locations. However, a newly surfaced Walmart training video reveals that the retail giant isn't instructing employees to actually enforce this new rule when customers refuse to follow it.

The reason? Walmart ultimately doesn't want to put its employees in any scenario that could potentially lead to violence.

"With every requirement, there are exceptions that have been established to avoid escalating the situation and putting our associates in harm's way," a Walmart representative told CNN, which had obtained a copy of the video. "Our goal is to keep associates from a physical confrontation in the stores."

According to the video, Walmart has instructed its new team of "health ambassadors"—the employees tasked with reminding customers to wear a mask at store entrances—to simply allow into the store any customer who refuses wear a face covering. When that happens, the health ambassadors should then "notify management … so that they can determine the next steps." The video directly instructs ambassadors "never to engage with a customer physically or try to block their entrance into the store."

Once the customer is inside, the store manager is responsible for offering him or her a complimentary mask. If the customer refuses the mask, the manager has instructions not to escort them from the store but to "let them continue to shop."

The decision has, of course, prompted safety concerns.

"Either security or management needs to tell people that they must wear a face mask in order to be served. It's no different than wearing shoes or a shirt," Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, told CNN. He went on: "[If retailers] are not requiring customers to wear a mask within their store, then they never had a requirement. All they had was a public relations stunt."

That said, you can understand Walmart's concern, given the reports of violence at many of its locations over the issue of face masks. According to one recent arrest report, a Walmart shopper in Louisiana was arrested for assaulting a police officer with a motor vehicle after being asked to leave the store. In another case, a Walmart shopper in Florida pulled a gun on a fellow shopper during a face-mask dispute. (That one was caught on video.)

For now, one can only hope that instances like those are few and far between—and that Walmart's new face mask "requirement" is quietly resulting in more customers wearing masks into its stores each and every day. And for more about Walmart, don't miss how the retail giant Plans to Remove This Shopping Staple From All Stores For Good.


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