List of local stores implementing mask mandates

List last updated Monday, July 20 at 1:30 p.m.

The Herald-Press has compiled a list of local stores that require or will soon require customers to wear face masks or face coverings.

The current list of mask requirements includes: Starbucks, TCB Games, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Owens, ALDI and Verizon.

Verizon - already in effect

Verizon continues to closely monitor developments related to the current outbreak of the novel Coronavirus known as COVID-19.

"We’ve made in-store enhancements for your safety, including touchless checkout, social-distancing markers and plastic partitions," the Verizon statement says. "Customers are required to wear cloth face coverings inside our stores. We will continue to use cleaning practices approved by the EPA and recommended by the CDC to provide a safe environment for our employees and customers."

Select stores will be open for customer needs. Appointments made online or through the My Verizon app are encouraged by the company, but walk-up customers will also be accepted.

Recent in-store enhancements to promote customer safety include:

Curbside pickup available in select locations.

In-Store Pickup for online orders

Touchless checkout

Social-distancing markers

Plastic partitions

"As the situation evolves, we’re working closely with our employees, partners and suppliers to support ongoing business operations and serve our customers’ needs," the statement says. "We are following recommendations of the WHO, CDC and other national health authorities, and are continuously monitoring the situation."

Starbucks – already in effect

In what Starbucks calls a continued effort to prioritize the health and well-being of employees and customers, the company announced it will be requiring customers to wear facial coverings while visiting all company-owned café locations in the US, beginning July 15.

Since a local government mandate is currently not in place in Huntington, customers that may not be wearing a facial covering will have various options to order their Starbucks, including ordering at the drive-thru, curbside pickup through the Starbucks app or placing an order for delivery through Starbucks Delivers.

TCB Games - already in effect

Starting Friday, July 17, masks will be required for entry into TCB Games.

"As a courtesy to our customers, you no longer need to risk your health to shop at our store," writes Todd Nightenhelser, TCB Games owner.

TCB Games guidance for casual customers:

If you do not feel the need to wear a mask, please advise that we will limit the amount of time you can browse the store to 5 minutes. Please feel free to call beforehand to check our inventory and assure the item you're looking for is in stock.

TCB Games guidance for players: Masks are 100% mandatory for game room usage starting July 17.

Walgreens – begins Monday, July 20

Walgreens is expanding requirements for customers to wear face covers while in stores across all Walgreens locations chainwide.

“Face covers have already been mandatory at thousands of Walgreens in states and jurisdictions where they are required,” a statement from Walgreens reads. “Now, furthering the company’s commitment to health and wellbeing in communities across America, Walgreens is asking customers at all stores nationwide to wear face covers when entering the store.”

Growing numbers of health officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are now urging everyone across the U.S. to wear face covers in public to help protect communities and stem the spread of COVID-19.

CVS – begins Monday, July 20

CVS Health Chief Operating Officer Jon Roberts provided the following update on the use of face coverings at CVS Pharmacy locations:

“Since the pandemic began, we’ve done everything we can to keep people safe and healthy. This includes requiring that store employees wear face coverings and encouraging our customers to do so as well. In any community with state or local laws mandating the use of face coverings, we’ve made that very clear through signage and other reminders.

“With the recent spike in COVID-19 infections, we’re joining others in taking the next step and requiring all customers to wear face coverings when entering any of our stores throughout the country effective Monday, July 20.”

CVS says they are not asking store employees to play the role of enforcer, but asking that customers help protect themselves and those around them by listening to the experts and heeding the call to wear a face covering.

Walmart - begins Monday, July 20

It will no longer be optional for customers to wear a face mask at Huntington’s Walmart store when the store's new face mask mandate is enforced on Monday.

Beginning July 20, all Walmart locations across the nation will require all customers to wear protective face masks when shopping at their stores as face coverings are proven to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The development is the latest step from the company to protect its customers and employees during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Currently about 65 percent of our more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings,” said Dacona Smith, Chief Operating Officer, Walmart U.S. “To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20. This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols.”

In addition to posting clear signage at the front of each store, Walmart has created the role of Health Ambassador and will station them near the entrance to remind those without a mask of our new requirements.

Ambassadors will receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers, according to Smith, and will work with customers who show up at a store without a face covering to try and find a solution.

The decision comes as many local governments are introducing mask mandates and new data shows an increase of asymptomatic transmission.

According to the CDC, face coverings help decrease the spread of COVID-19, and because the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected, local health officials say it’s important for residents to wear a face covering in public and to practice social distancing.

"This virus, like many viruses, has a wide array of symptoms. Anywhere from fever to loss of taste and smell, and that could be the only symptom you have, but you could still be positive," Huntington County Public Health Nurse Emily Schamehorn said.

According to results released during phase two of the state's gradual reopening, 43 percent of Indiana residents who were actively infected with COVID-19 showed no symptoms.

"That just shows you how big asymptomatic carriers are in this pandemic of COVID-19," Schamehorn said. "The COVID-19 pandemic is not over and I just want to remind everybody that it's still going on and it's still a big deal."

Until a medication or vaccination is developed to stop or slow the spread or to make the illness not quite as severe, Schamehorn says one of the most important steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 via asymptomatic transmission is wearing a face covering or mask while out in public.

"There are many misconceptions out there about wearing a mask – the mask does not protect you from other people, but it protects other people from you," Schamehorn said. "So if you are one of the people who are carrying the virus and you don't know it, many things that you do normally like talk or cough or sneeze could emit respiratory droplets that could have the virus in them. So it's really important for everybody to wear a mask, in order to slow the spread, in order to keep those droplets in."

Walmart enacted cleaning and sanitizing protocols with guidance from the CDC and Walmart’s Chief Medical Officer early on to ensure the well-being of associates and customers, according to Casey Staheli, Senior Manager of National Media Relations for Walmart.

“We’ve also posted signs at the entrance reminding customers of the importance of wearing masks,” Staheli told The Herald-Press. “Maintaining customer and associate safety remains our top priority. We encourage customers to be especially mindful of one another during this unprecedented time.”

Walmart was unable to confirm any information related to COVID-19 cases at the Huntington location from a Herald-Press request, but Straheli shared the store’s protocols in case employees were to test positive.

“In the case we do have a confirmed case at any of our stores, we are working with those associates and offering guidance and time needed to receive medical care,” Strehli said. “Associates have been encouraged to prioritize their health and stay home if feeling sick. We also implemented a COVID-19 emergency leave policy for all associates who feel unable or uncomfortable coming to work.

“While we are not able to confirm any information related to this store at this time, we have been working to ensure our stores are cleaned and sanitized regularly. We are focused on serving our customers and keeping our associates safe during this unprecedented time and we’ve implemented several measures intended to help bring peace of mind.”

Owens - July 22

Owen’s Market in Huntington confirmed to The Herald-Press that they will join other Kroger chain stores in requiring customers to wear face masks beginning Wednesday, July 22 shortly after Walmart announced a similar face mask mandate on Wednesday.

“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,” a statement from Kroger says.

The company says their main priority is to provide a safe environment for associates and customers while keeping stores open so communities have access to food and essential items.

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.

“Starting July 22, we will require all customers in all locations to wear a mask when shopping in our stores, joining our associates who continue to wear masks,” the statement says. “We are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country.”

The company says it respects and acknowledges that some customers, due to medical reasons, may not be able to wear a mask (small children are exempt) and encourages those customers to consider an alternative options including face shields or facial coverings.

Customers who are unable to wear a mask or an alternative design are asked to use available ecommerce services like pickup or delivery, which is currently at no additional cost in an effort to support all households during the COVID-19 pandemic (generally a $4.95 fee).

“We thank our associates and customers for partnering with us to slow down the spread of COVID-19,” the statement added.

Owen’s Market in Huntington updated their hours from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to allow employees time to rest and time to sanitize the store. A senior shopping hour is also observed from 7 to 8 a.m. Monday through Thursday where seniors age 60 and older along with “higher-risk” customers as defined by the CDC are allowed to shop during the designated time.

ALDI - begins July 27

The grocery store ALDI in Huntington will require customers to wear face masks to enter the store as part of a chain-wide decision, mirroring several other stores' new face mask mandates.

ALDI says the new face covering policy which will become effective Monday, July 27 is being implemented for the safety of customers and employees.

"The health and safety of our employees, customers and the communities we serve will always be our highest priority," the statement from ALDI reads. "With that focus in mind, effective July 27, face coverings will be required to enter ALDI stores."

ALDI will continue to monitor safety protocols from the CDC as well as state and local health officials. Most recently, the CDC stated that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 and could reduce the spread of the virus.

"Wearing a face mask in public helps to slow the spread of COVID-19 by preventing the spread of possibly infectious respiratory droplets," the Huntington County Health Department says.

The new face covering policy is an "enhanced safety measure" intended to help limit the spread of COVID-19, according to ALDI. All ALDI employees will continue to wear face coverings, as they have for months.

"We encourage any customer that is unable or unwilling to wear a face covering, to visit shop.aldi.us for grocery delivery - and even Curbside Grocery Pickup in many locations," ALDI added.

ALDI in Huntington has offered a “Vulnerable Shopping Hour” since the end of March. The shopping hour on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. is designed for customers who are at higher risk of complication with COVID-19.

“We’re happy to provide it,” ALDI Huntington store manager Debbi Chaffee told The Herald-Press about the special shopping hour. “We hope that the everyday crowd is mindful that this first hour is for seniors, pregnant women, people with immunodeficiencies, but we’re not going to tell anyone no they’re not allowed to come in. We just want people to be able to get their food.”

If you see a local business we didn't include on this list that has a mask policy for customers or if you are a business owner who plans to introduce a mask policy, please let us know at editor@h-ponline.com.