Unlike many retailers that have dialed up their coronavirus safety protocol in recent weeks, the parent company of Family Dollar and Dollar Tree will no longer require customers to wear face masks in every store.
An FAQ on the Dollar Tree website updated last week explains that Dollar Tree Inc. does "request" that customers wear face masks but stops short of requiring them. The exception to this policy is stores in areas with state or city-wide mask mandates, in which case the store will enforce the local ordinance.
An NBC affiliate in St. Louis reported that this policy is a shift from the company's previous one. About two weeks ago, Dollar Tree Inc. policies stated that shoppers, vendors and employees all had to wear face masks, according to the outlet. Now, this only applies to vendors and employees.
The reason for the change was not immediately clear. Dollar Tree Inc. did not immediately respond to TODAY's request for comment.
In last week's statement, Dollar Tree Inc. also introduced four new strategies to reduce spread of the coronavirus in its stores. These include plexiglass guards at cash registers, contactless payment and health screenings for employees before work and upon arrival.
Dollar Tree Inc.'s change in policy follows several other national chains updating their mask guidance. Last week, Publix and Kroger, both grocery stores, announced they would require masks starting Tuesday, July 21, and Wednesday, July 22, respectively. Walmart's mask mandate, also introduced last week, kicked in on Monday.
Winn-Dixie, a popular grocery chain in the South, came under fire over the weekend after its parent company, Southeastern Grocers, announced it wouldn't require masks in its stores. On Monday, Southeastern Grocers changed this policy, citing customer feedback and recent surges of COVID-19.
Several states in the U.S. have recently experienced record-breaking rates of news cases of the coronavirus. Florida, one of the hardest hit, reported more than 10,300 infections on Saturday alone. Last week, NBC News reported that Florida, California and Texas accounted for one-fifth of the world's new COVID-19 cases.