Walmart corporate says masks still required, but local Walmarts quietly drop enforcement
MANDEVILLE — The City of Mandeville is following the state and parish in dropping its COVID-19 mask mandate in all public buildings. Local businesses can still opt to require their customers to wear masks but few seem to be doing so.
Last week, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the state was easing its mask mandate, having been in effect since July 2020, as Louisiana’s new cases of COVID-19 have continued to drop to record lows while the state vaccination rate is steadily climbing.
Almost immediately after the state’s announcement, St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper announced the parish would follow the state’s lead and no longer require businesses to comply. Mandeville’s announcement came shortly after Cooper’s proclamation.
According to reports, the only Mandeville area businesses keeping their mask requirements in place — at least for now — belong to national retail chains, like Walmart, Fantastic Sam’s and a few others.
Walmart released a statement to the Mandeville Daily declaring that Louisiana Walmart stores will continue to require masks:
“We serve millions of Americans every week and believe our policy of requiring associates and customers to wear masks in our stores has helped protect them during the pandemic, and we’re not lifting those measures at this time…”
However, the Mandeville Daily observed an apparent easing of mask enforcement since Edwards’ announcement at both the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Mandeville and Walmart Supercenter in Covington.
Shoppers not wearing masks were seen entering these stores without being prompted at various times of day on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, although store employees themselves did appear to still be following Walmart’s stated mask policy.
Witnesses have told the Mandeville Daily that before Gov. Edwards announcement, Walmart strictly enforced its rule: no mask, no entry.
This would seem to indicate an unofficial change in mask policy at local Walmarts, contradicting Walmart’s official statement for Louisiana.