Starting Monday, the Detroit Lakes Walmart will require all customers to wear masks to help stem the spread of COVID-19. Walmart is making the policy mandatory in all its U.S. stores.
Most people that were willing to talk to a reporter in the Walmart parking lot on Thursday either supported the idea or were resigned to the change.
“I’m all for it,” said an upbeat Becky Warren of Ogema. “I wear one everywhere I go. I wear them all the time, and gloves, too.” She said she is used to wearing a mask because she is required to wear one at her job at the Shooting Star Casino.
Kate Spaeth of Detroit Lakes was less enthusiastic about the idea. “I think it’s a little excessive, being we’re as far into the pandemic as we are,” she said. “But I’m not one to argue it. You’ve got to follow company policy.” It won’t stop her from shopping at Walmart, she said.
Leo Gallegos of Detroit Lakes was in the parking lot concerned about a dog that had been left in a nearby car with all the windows rolled up tight. “It’s been there 35 minutes already,” he said. Just then the owners showed up and Gallegos relaxed.
“I think it (the new Walmart policy) is a good idea,” he said. “I’d like everybody to be safe. “If I were sick and coughing, I’d stay home, but if I had to go out, I’d feel a lot better not making other people sick.” He said he wears face masks all the time -- he has a couple of cloth masks -- and uses hand sanitizer regularly.
Laura Guthrie and Leonard Roy, who live in the Strawberry Lake area, said they are in favor of the new mask policy at Walmart. “We both wear masks, even though it’s hard to breathe in them sometimes,” Guthrie said.
Roy gets upset that some people claim COVID-19 is a hoax.
“It’s no hoax about this disease, people are getting sick from it -- it’s real,” he said.
Guthrie supports action to keep people safe. “I’m a little disappointed that Detroit Lakes is not going to do the mandatory mask wearing,” she said, referring to a KDLM Radio story that quotes Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk saying the city has no plans to implement a mask ordinance.
Other stores in Detroit Lakes, including Menards, already require customers to wear masks.
Walmart will deploy black polo-shirted employees to work at the entrances in a new role, as “health ambassadors” to engage with customers about the new policy.
Kelly Steinle, who lives between Detroit Lakes and Park Rapids, was shopping Thursday with her brother, Monty Hanson of Detroit Lakes.
Steinle said she really notices the difference between stores in Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes. “I usually shop at Walmart there,” she said. “People there have been doing it (wearing masks) really well there the whole time. Almost no one here wears one, except employees, of course.”
She forgot to wear a mask herself when running in to pick up an item at Central Market, and noticed that she was among the few there without masks. A kindly customer talked to her outside after she left Central Market and gave her a mask, she said.
Brianna Rosenthal of Wadena said the new policy won’t stop her from shopping at Walmart. “I have to wear one at work (at Longhorn Steakhouse in Fargo) anyway,” she said.
David Lauritsan of Huntington Beach, Calif., said he is all for the new policy nationwide. “We gotta wear one there anyway,” he said of California.
Eric Smith of Detroit Lakes said he mostly goes to Walmart to use the pharmacy, and won’t be deterred by the new mask policy, but “I’m not too pumped up about it,” he said. “You hear one thing that masks are good at stopping it, and another thing that homemade masks don’t really do anything anyway, so I don’t know,” he said.
The new Walmart policy was announced Wednesday and will take effect July 20.