(Photo by John Schneider) This sign near the Caro Walmart entrance lets customers know that facemasks are required to enter the store. The store announced the policy Thursday but many customers simply ignored the policy and entered the store without a mask.

A new policy requires customers to wear a facemask to shop at the Caro Walmart Superstore in Caro, 1121 E. Caro Road.

But many are ignoring the new requirement.

Many Michigan Walmart stores announced that, beginning Thursday, the supermarket would limit customers to entering through only the doors nearest the grocery section. The purpose being to make it easier to enforce the company’s new policy, which mandates that customers must wear a face covering before entrance.

Thursday afternoon at Caro Walmart, two employees working outside the store stopped potential customers from entering if they weren’t wearing a facemask. Some left. Some argued before leaving. And some simply ignored the employees and entered the store anyway.

When someone entered the store without a facemask, the outside employees radioed the information into management. But once inside, there wasn’t much that could be done to enforce the facemask policy.

The policy is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus is transmitted person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC recommends washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with others, covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when near others and cleaning and disinfecting often.

On Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order that, beginning Monday, all people are mandated to wear a mask when entering an indoor public space. Anyone who doesn’t comply will be subject to a $500 fine.

A Caro Walmart assistant manager advised an Advertiser reporter that store employees were not allowed to speak to the press. She did point out that masks were on sale in the supermarket. A package of five cloth facemasks – either white or black – are available for $7.50 and are for sale near the front-left corner of the men’s apparel department. 

One Caro Walmart employee could be overheard telling an upset mask-less customer that Walmart headquarters makes decisions, and not individual store employees.

An Advertiser reporter observed more than 40 Caro Walmart customers shopping without facemasks Thursday afternoon – about 25 percent of all shoppers.

Walmart stores require employees to wear face masks inside stores, whether they are working or not.

There was some good news for local Walmart customers, the store featured nearly a full stock of toilet paper and cleaning and sanitizing products. Since mid-March, when states began implementing COVID-19 restrictions, toilet paper – oddly enough – and cleaning supplies were some of the most popular items scooped up by panic buyers. Caro Walmart was largely without toilet paper for about three months.

John Schneider is editor of The Advertiser. He can be reached at john@tcadvertiser.com.