Minnesota Retailers Mask Up
The city of Minneapolis was arguably ahead of the Covid-19 curve. Starting on May 26, the city implemented a policy requiring masks inside of stores, the downtown skyway system, hotels, recreation centers and government buildings. At the time wearing a mask elsewhere was largely a suggestion, not a requirement.
But since then many other Minnesota cities have followed Minneapolis’ lead. Beyond that many locally based retailers are implementing their own face mask requirements for customers.
- Richfield-based Best Buy Co. Inc. announced on July 14 that it would require customers to wear masks effective the following day, July 15.
- On July 16, Minneapolis-based Target Corp. announced that it would do the same, but that its policy would not be in effect until August 1.
- July 16: Local grocery chain Lunds & Byerlys announced its implementation of a mask requirement in its 27 stores, effective on July 31.
Clearly many retailers are taking cues from each other. There was a flood of such announcements last week. Similar policies have been implemented by numerous national retailers including Walmart, Costco, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Whole Foods, Aldi, CVS, Menards, Home Depot, Lowe’s, PetSmart, Office Depot and Apple stores.
“One of the strengths of the retail industry is that we do learn from each other,” said Bruce Nustad, president of the Minnesota Retailers Association.
Beyond that, Nustad said, many smaller retailers will evaluate their own store environments gauging factors such as the flow of customers and how long customers remain in the store to make decisions on face covering requirements.
Despite the new policies, Nustad said that most retailers do not want to the mask police. “We prefer not to be put in the spot of being the enforcers,” said Nustad.
Nustad added that some retailers would welcome more consistent government guidelines.
“We have heard from retailers that would prefer a uniform policy as opposed to a city-by-city policy,” said Nustad. “While we’ve heard that, that’s not universal. About half of our retailers would approve of a more uniform approach.”
In a statement provided to Twin Cities Business, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce president Doug Loon said, “Businesses have made safety a priority since the onset of Covid-19. We’re encouraged by employers voluntarily asking employees and patrons to wear masks, since science shows the positive impact they have on mitigating the spread.”
Cities around the state are increasingly passing their own mandates. On Monday Roseville, St. Cloud and Bemidji all passed ordinances requiring face masks in public. A list compiled by the Minnesota Retailers Association now lists 15 cities around the state that have passed face covering requirements.
On Monday the Metropolitan Airports Commission also approved a resolution to require face coverings at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, effective July 27.