FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Starting Wednesday, July 22, Kroger stores will require all customers at all locations to wear a mask while grocery shopping.

“We are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country,” the company said in a news release.

According to the CDC, wearing a facial covering, combined with social distancing and frequent handwashing, has been scientifically proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Kroger’s most urgent priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been to provide a safe environment for our associates and customers…,” the grocery chain said. “We respect and acknowledge that some customers, due to medical reasons, may not be able to wear a mask (small children are exempt). We encourage those customers to consider an alternative option like a face shield or facial covering. If they’re unable to wear a mask or an alternative design, we request that they use our ecommerce services like pickup or delivery. To support all households during the COVID-19 pandemic, our grocery pickup service remains free (generally a $4.95 fee).”