KEY POINTS

  • The Retail Industry Leaders Association wants all U.S. governors to make face masks mandatory
  • The association believes that a uniform rule will prevent conflicts among shoppers and retail workers
  • Viral videos of store workers and customers arguing over face masks appear online almost daily

A retailer group with members from big companies like Target and Home Depot are urging all governors in the U.S. to require shoppers to wear a face mask, believing that such a rule would reduce conflicts with customers and protect the workers.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) sent a letter to the National Governors Association on Monday, July 6, stating that the different face mask mandates across states have created confusion between store employees and their customers.  The group said "a uniform approach" was "essential" since conflicts stemmed from how customers and law enforcers interpreted the rules.

A spokesperson for the National Governors Association said Tuesday that they were discussing the request.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended face mask use when around other people to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Most retailers were enforcing a store policy on wearing face masks despite the absence of an order from the governors. However, only fewer than half of the states made face covering a requirement, USA Today reported.

On social media, viral videos showing arguments, and sometimes physical violence, between retail workers and customers were shared almost on a daily basis.

During the Independence Day weekend holiday, a woman filmed herself as she destroyed a face mask display at a Target outlet in Arizona and her video went viral.

Another video taken from a Costco store in Oregon showed a woman arguing with workers when she refused to wear a face mask.

"Retailers are alarmed with the instances of hostility and violence front-line employees are experiencing by a vocal minority of customers who are under the misguided impression that wearing a mask is a violation of their civil liberties," Brian Dodge, the retail group's president, said.

Dodge also said retail employees should "not be charged with primary enforcement of mask mandates" or fined because the customer refused to wear a mask.

"Wearing a mask is not about fear, and it certainly should not reflect one's politics," Dodge added in the letter. "Wearing a mask is about respecting others and preventing the spread of a deadly disease. This should no longer be up for debate."

1600px-Masquerade___Coronavirus Target stores in Los Angeles County are enforcing the mandatory face mask order. Photo: Russ Allison Loar / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)