Both Lowe's and The Home Depot announced today that they have adopted a nationwide standard for all customers to wear masks or face coverings when shopping in U.S. stores.
Lowe's said its policy is effective July 20 while The Home Depot is putting its plan into action on July 22. The move follows similar actions taken by major U.S. retailers in the past week, including Walmart, Best Buy and Kroger.
Lowe's said that it will offer free masks at the customer service desk of stores, while supplies last, and continue to provide hand sanitizer.
Home Depot said that small children, or those who have a valid medical condition, will not be required to wear a mask.
Lowe’s President and CEO Marvin Ellison said that Lowe’s, as a retailer selling essential goods, has a responsibility to its associates, customers, and small businesses in communities nationwide to help provide a safe shopping experience.
"Throughout this pandemic, our associates have worked tirelessly so customers could get the goods and services they needed for their homes and small businesses,” Ellison said. “For the safety of everyone in our stores, we ask that customers wear masks, and to make this new standard less restrictive, we will make masks available to those who need them."
Employees at Lowe’s have been required to wear masks since May. Also, many Lowe’s stores operate in regions where state and local authorities have already required customers to wear masks, the company said.
According to Home Depot, about 85% of its stores already require facial masks in compliance with local and state regulations, with company associates required to wear masks in stores, distribution centers, and other locations.
"We appreciate all of our associates who have been working so hard to serve our customers with the essential products they need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we want to thank our customers for their cooperation as we work to protect everyone in our stores," said Ann-Marie Campbell, executive vice president of stores for The Home Depot.
Earlier this week, a number of retailers announced that they are requiring customers to wear masks while shopping.
Lowe's stores will have signage at the entrances requesting that customers wear face coverings.
Since the early days of the pandemic, Lowe's said that it has taken several operational measures to support social distancing and offer customers shopping options, including in-store pickup, curbside pickup, and expanded product availability on Lowes.com.
Other initiatives Lowe's has used to encourage social distancing include overhead reminders, signage, and social distance ambassadors.
The Home Depot will remind customers about the new requirement by posting signs at all store entrances and via audio announcements on store PA systems. Social distancing captains and store associates will be available to provide masks to those shoppers who may not have one, the Atlanta-based retailer said.
In addition to requiring masks, The Home Depot will promote social and physical distancing in stores through floor markings, signage, PA announcements, and plexiglass shields to help customers and associates maintain safe distances.