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Whole Foods asking customers to cover faces in stores, will offer free masks

The grocery chain says it's providing free, disposable masks to all shoppers nationwide if they don't have one when entering the store.

WASHINGTON — Editor's note: The video above was published April 23, 2020.

Whole Foods is going to start asking customers to wear masks and will give them to people as they arrive at stores.

The supermarket chain announced in an Amazon blog Thursday that it's requesting people wear masks inside to help protect its employees and the community during the coronavirus outbreak.

Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired two years ago, also says that over the next week it will offer free, disposable masks to all shoppers nationwide. Customers will be able to pick up a mask at the store entrance if they don't already have their own face covering.

Amazon's blog post says that it expects to spend more than $800 million in the first half of the year on COVID-19 safety measures, buying masks, hand sanitizer, thermometers and other items. 

"We will keep evaluating how to best support our teams and communities, and will continue rolling out measures to protect the health and safety of every person helping customers get what they need during this difficult time," Amazon said Thursday.

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Credit: wusa9

Many shoppers have been forgiving of Amazon as frustrations have grown over shortages during the coronavirus pandemic, in large part because there are few better alternatives for getting essentials online.

“That’s the only place you can shop for most everything you need,” Marlina Fol, a caregiver in Manhattan, told the Associated Press, saying she was able to buy masks and hand sanitizer from Amazon in early March but now struggles to get a window for grocery delivery from Whole Foods.

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Credit: AP
A pedestrian wears a mask while walking past a sign for a Whole Foods Market. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The Associated Press contributed.