Walmart WMT will require shoppers to wear face coverings at its more than 5,000 stores, starting July 20.
The Bentonville, Ark., retailing giant says the decision also brings consistency across its stores since currently almost two-thirds, about 65%, of its stores are in areas in which government orders require face coverings.
"While we're certainly not the first business to require face coverings, we know this is a simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities," Walmart said in a statement.
The statement said face coverings help decrease the spread of covid-19 as does social distancing because the virus can be spread by asymptomatic carriers.
The company says it will post specially trained staff in black polo shirts to "help make the process as smooth as possible for customers."
Those employees will work with customers who come to the store without face coverings. Walmart said it was considering a number of possible solutions.
At Sam's Clubs, the company's membership outlets, a complimentary mask will be provided if a member doesn't have one. Or members can buy them in Sam's Club stores, Walmart said.
As part of its effort to enforce the mask edict, all Walmart stores will have a single entrance.
Wearing face masks has become a political issue in the U.S.
"We know some people have differing opinions on this topic," the company said.
"We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials like" the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Walmart said.