As coronavirus cases surge nationwide, a growing number of retailers are making face masks mandatory inside stores.
Walmart has taken it a step further to clear up any confusion as to who will be responsible for enforcing the new policies.
The retail chain said it is creating a dedicated enforcement team made up of specially trained “health ambassadors” who will work to help implement the rule starting Monday, July 20.
To announcement aims to ease the concern from some shoppers, who fear employees will be thrust into confrontational situations with potentially aggressive customers who refuse to follow the mask rule.
“I don’t think it’s going to be enough to have the health ambassadors,” Vicky Kriete told The New York Post, adding, “I think they’ll need a security guard standing next to them in case people balk.”
However, Walmart assures that the health ambassadors will be equipped with the tools to de-escalate any situation.
“Our Health Ambassadors are receiving special de-escalation training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers,” Walmart spokeswoman Rebecca Thomason said in a statement to the publication.
The game plan? To "work with customers who show up without a face covering to try and find a solution."
Employment lawyer Linda Wong weighed in telling the news organization that “the First Amendment rights of individuals who think they shouldn’t have to wear masks are outweighed by the need for public safety measures and concerns.”
However, she added that Walmart should extend care when dealing with customers who have medical conditions and cannot wear masks.
Thomason noted that the health ambassadors are prepared to deal with special cases including medical exceptions.
“Since it may not be possible for all customers to wear masks, our Ambassadors are also trained on how to best handle exceptions to reduce friction,” she pointed out.
Walmart's website states: "In addition to posting clear signage at the front of our stores, 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. Our ambassadors will receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers. The ambassadors, identifiable by their black polo shirts, will work with customers who show up at a store without a face covering to try and find a solution. We are currently considering different solutions for customers when this requirement takes effect."
Health ambassadors will be on-hand at the 5,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club locations to ease tensions and find solutions beginning on Monday.