In a sign that universal masking in retail stores is moving toward inevitability, Walmart announced Wednesday that it would institute mask rules in Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, effective Monday, July 20.  Around 65% of the company's stores are already in locations with government mask rules; the new rule will make the rule uniform in all of the company’s U.S. stores.

Walmart stores will now have a person in a new role, Health Ambassador, identifiable by black polo shirts, at the entrance to stores "to remind those without a mask of our new requirements."  Sam's Clubs will also have employees stationed at the entrance.  All stores will operate with a single entrance as the new policy is implemented.

The new policy allows for some exceptions, acknowledging that "it may not be possible for everyone to wear a face covering," and noting that employees will be trained on the exceptions "to help reduce friction for the shopper and make the process as easy as possible for everyone."

The Retailer Industry Leaders Association, a trade association of large retailers that include Walmart, asked governors, in a letter to the National Governors Association last week, to institute state-wide mask rules across the country to avoid putting store employees in the position of enforcing store policies in jurisdictions without mask rules (see "Chain Retailers Ask Governors for Mask Rules").