JONESBORO, Ark. – On Wednesday, Walmart announced it was mandating masks for anyone who wished to shop in their stores (including Sam’s Club).
The new rule takes effect July 20. All stores will have a single entrance and a staff member will be dedicated to ensuring masks are worn before entry is allowed, a statement said.
“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 on July 20.” – Walmart statement.
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said he and the city appreciate the announcement. He said he hopes this will help prevent COVID spread in Jonesboro.
“If we can all work together, we can do better than other cities,” he said. “I love Jonesboro, and I am proudest when we tackle a problem as one.”
Jonesboro Mayoral Candidate Andy Shatley previously issued a statement last week in reference to the Arkansas Municipal League’s model mask ordinance. He said then the proposed mask ordinance appeared to leave the decision up to the business owners – something they already had the legal right to mandate. Walmart’s announcement would seem to confirm this.
“What I have yet to see is a criterion-based bench-marking process to guide our decisions and restrictive measures,” Shatley wrote. “What threshold constitutes an increase in restrictive measures and the subsequent removal of those measures? Before placing restrictive measures onto citizens…such as mask mandates, the rationale should be clear, measurable and graded accordingly.”
“We know some people have differing opinions on this topic,” said Walmart’s chief operating officer in a blog post. “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 CDC.”
Jonesboro council to decide on mask mandate
The Jonesboro Public Safety Committee advanced two different COVID-19 measures to the full city council on Monday: The first is an ordinance requiring the use of facial coverings in public places. It was narrowly advanced to full council by a vote of 4-3. The ordinance has no prescribed punishment. It was sponsored by council members Ann Williams and L.J. Bryant.
The second measure is a resolution that would “strongly encourage” the use of masks. This was announced last week by the Jonesboro mayor. It passed by a much wider margin, 6-1.
Council member Bobby Long voted against both proposals. He said he would present an alternative next week.
The next council meeting is July 21 – one day after the world’s largest retailer’s mandate goes into effect. Both measures will be given a full vote.
Craighead County recorded 45 new cases in the prior 24 hours on Tuesday, July 14.