Harmons to require all Utah customers to wear masks in stores

(Rick Bowmer | AP file photo) Harmons employee Sarah Kiel gives away a free digital thermometer at the pharmacy drive-thru window Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Salt Lake City. The grocery chain will require all customers to wear masks.

Customers at all Harmons Grocery stores in Utah soon will be required to wear face masks while inside shopping, the company said Friday.

The requirement begins Saturday for Salt Lake County stores and July 5 in the rest of the Utah locations, Harmons Chairman Bob Harmon said in a news release.

Signs reminding customers that masks are required will be posted at entrances.

On Thursday, Gov. Gary Herbert approved a mask mandate for Salt Lake and Summit counties that’s set to take effect Saturday in hopes of stopping a spike in coronavirus cases.

The governor, local officials and medical professionals are urging all Utahns to wear masks when out and about. That includes when inside retail stores such as markets, clothing shops, restaurants and bars. (Although once customers are seated at an eatery they can remove their mask to enjoy food and drink.)

Harmons isn’t the first Utah food business to require masks. Several months ago, the owner of Snider Bros. Meats began mandating that customers have face coverings before entering their Cottonwood Heights shop. Face coverings were one of the measures that employees said would make them feel safer at work.

Costco, the national warehouse chain, also has been requiring that customers wear masks since May.

For Harmons, expanding the mask requirement to all of its Utah stores was “the obvious next step” as cases COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

“As the pandemic surges on,” Harmon said in the release, “it has become clear that we need to do even more to protect our associates.”

The Utah Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing face coverings in public places and when social distancing is not possible.