JOANN, which operates around 850 stores in 49 states, will now “respectfully encourage” masks regardless of local mandates.
Read more: These retailers require customers to wear face masks in stores
“It’s the right thing to do,” Miquelon said, “So for the very small minority [of people] who don’t want to comply, I think these are probably clients that we are willing to lose just because of the situation we find ourselves in.
Miquelon said the policy was necessary because coronavirus cases have reached a “tipping point.”
Previously, JOANN had a face mask policy in stores where the local government had rules in place. The new policy, which encourages but does not explicitly require masks, applies to all of the company’s stores.
Signs will be posted in all stores on Saturday and the company will notify customers of the change through its website.
Miquelon declined to say whether JOANN employees are trained to refuse clients who do not wear face masks. “We’ll cross the bridge when we get there,” he said.
While he recognizes the potential for “hostile moments,” Miquelon added, “I just don’t want to see an employee get hurt. Our people did not sign up for it. They are just trying to be good citizens and make a living.
In March, JOANN posted a video tutorial on how to make face masks and encouraged people to drop them off at stores to be donated to local hospitals.
Miquelon’s concerns highlight how retailers are trying to strike a balance between protecting their employees and maintaining the customer relationships they need to keep their business alive.
Several retailers, including Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walgreens and CVS, require masks, but will not prevent customers without a mask from shopping in their stores. They say they want to avoid any confrontation between angry customers and employees.
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