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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Hy-Vee to hand out masks to customers beginning Monday

The Midwest grocer said they don't want to put their employees in a "highly confrontational situation." They plan to hand out free masks starting July 27.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Midwest grocer Hy-Vee will be handing out three million free face masks to their customers starting Monday, according to a release sent last week. 

Hy-Vee said they are starting a new initiative to get more Americans to wear masks in public to limit the spread of COVID-19.

It's called "Mask It Up To Shut COVID Down. It's Your Choice." This comes as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend face coverings for those in public. 

Starting Monday, shoppers will see employees stationed at front doors handing out masks to those not wearing one. Signage, attire and other reminders will be placed around stores as well to inform customers on the educational campaign.

When asked if leaders are discussing a face mask policy on Tuesday, Hy-Vee spokesperson Christina Gayman said, "Nothing to share at this time."

Last week, the grocer released a further explanation on why they aren't enforcing a mask mandate. 

The statement reads in part:

"Truth be told, it is very difficult for any retailer to enforce or police the wearing of masks by every single customer."

Meanwhile, other large grocers like Target and Walmart are requiring customers to where masks in their stores. 

Here's the full statement from Hy-Vee:

"We are highly recommending the wearing of masks in our stores, which is why we are being proactive in handing out millions of masks to customers across our eight states at no cost. Truth be told, it is very difficult for any retailer to enforce or police the wearing of masks by every single customer. Also, we don’t want to put our employees in a highly confrontational situation with customers who might be very emotional about this issue – as has happened at other retail locations. Instead, we are being realistic and responsible by handing out masks and educating our shoppers. We are doing something about it versus just saying something about it."

RELATED: Defying governor, Iowa City mayor mandates masks in public

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