On July 15, the UFCW responded to the new policy by Kroger which requires that customers wear masks in stores, calling it long overdue, and emphasized the need to mandate masks in all 50 states.
“Kroger’s action to mandate masks for customers is long overdue and an important step that UFCW has been calling for since the beginning of the pandemic,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a statement. “To help save lives, every retailer and grocery store across this nation must adopt a mask requirement, and enforcement must be done by trained professionals, not retail workers already stretched thin during this crisis.
“While action by companies to require masks is essential, the brutal reality is that this is not nearly enough to turn the tide as COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket in states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas,” Perrone added. “Across the country, every governor and mayor must step up and make masks mandatory at all supermarkets and retail stores. Without universal mask mandates that are fully enforced nationwide, hundreds of thousands of Americans will continue to get sick and die. We cannot wait any longer.”
The UFCW has estimated that there have been at least 93 worker deaths due to COVID-19 and 12,200 workers infected or exposed in grocery stores across the country. April marked the highest single-month total for grocery worker deaths with 46 supermarket employees killed by COVID-19, and the month of May marked the grocery industry’s biggest overall spike in COVID-19 cases with 5,901 new grocery workers infected or exposed.