Shoppers at two Twin Cities grocery store chains will soon be required to wear face coverings.
Lunds & Byerlys and Kowalski's Markets announced Thursday they'd be implementing face mask mandates at all of their stores. Lunds & Byerlys will require them starting July 31 and Kowalski's is starting Monday, July 20.
Kowalski's says it will provide masks shoppers who ask for one, but anyone who declines to wear one will be asked to leave the store.
"We hope that these added precautions will help to keep our customers and employees safe and healthy in these unprecedented times," Kowalski's said in a Facebook post.
Lunds & Byerlys said in a news release Thursday it made the decision to require shoppers to wear a mask to maintain a "consistent shopping experience across all 27 locations" since a growing number of cities have started implementing face-covering mandates.
Waiting until July 31 to implement its face mask policy will give the grocery chain "time to finalize the operational details, train staff and inform customers," it said.
Lunds & Byerlys said shoppers who don't want to wear a mask can order groceries online for curbside pickup or home delivery.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges people to wear a mask to help limit the spread of COVID-19, saying there is evidence that face coverings, even homemade ones, prevent the spread of the virus, especially when used by everyone in a community.
“We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said in a statement this week. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”
The main protection people get from masking occurs when others in their communities also wear face coverings, the CDC says.
This week, several big-box retailers, including Target and Walmart, announced they'll be requiring shoppers to wear masks as a growing number of cities and states issue mask mandates.
In Minnesota, Duluth, Edina, Excelsior, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, St. Paul, Rochester and Winona are among the cities that have or will implement mask requirements for indoor public spaces. Other cities, including Bloomington, St. Cloud and Wayzata, are considering mask mandates.
Minnesota has yet to require masks statewide, but Gov. Tim Walz says he's looking into it as pressure increases, including from the Minnesota Medical Association and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, for a statewide mandate (despite Republican lawmakers saying one isn't needed).
More than 20 states already have a mask mandate, NPR reported.