July 16, 2020 / 3:06 PM / a month ago

Target, CVS, Walgreens to require customers wear masks at U.S. stores

FILE PHOTO: A Target shopping cart is seen in front of a store logo in Azusa, California U.S. November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

(Reuters) - Target Corp, CVS Health Corp and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc said on Thursday they would require customers wear face coverings while shopping at their U.S. stores, adopting a widely accepted way to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The move by consumer-facing companies comes as virus cases continue to surge in the United States and deaths exceed 137,000.

On Wednesday, Walmart Inc (WMT.N), Kroger Co (KR.N) and Kohls Corp (KSS.N) had decided to implement the policy at all their outlets.

Target (TGT.N) said it would launch the policy from August 1, with an exception for those with underlying medical conditions and young children.

Local and state regulations already require shoppers at over 80% of its stores to wear face masks, the retailer said.

Walgreens’ (WBA.O) policy will come into effect on Monday, with the company saying it will add store signage and intercom messages to remind shoppers of the new rule.

CVS (CVS.N) will also launch the rule at its pharmacies from Monday, but said it was not asking its employees to act as enforcers.

While many companies have recommended masks for months, they were hesitant to make it a requirement over fears of drawing the ire of shoppers, especially after several videos posted online showed confrontations between customers and store staff.

“What we are asking is that customers help protect themselves,” CVS said in a statement.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Arun Koyyur

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