Walmart exempts those who have ‘difficulty breathing’ from wearing masks

Rick Rottman
3 min readJul 21, 2020


I went to the Hagerstown Walmart Thursday afternoon. Even though the state of Maryland mandates all indoor retail businesses require customers and employees to wear face coverings, it’s not being enforced at the Hagerstown Walmart.

I spotted a good many Walmart shoppers without face coverings and not practicing social distancing. Why were so many people being irresponsible during the coronavirus pandemic?

Maybe it had something to do with this sign:

I thought the above sign was extremely troubling. It told Walmart shoppers they do not have to wear a state-mandated face covering if they have “difficulty” breathing. Walmart even suggested this exemption is based on a state or city order. It’s not.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan signed executive order 20–04–15–01 on April 15, 2020. This is what it says about the requirement to wear a face covering while in a retail establishment:

ii. all customers over the age of nine are required to wear Face Coverings while inside the enclosed area of any Retail Establishment or Foodservice Establishment;

It uses the word “all.” It says nothing about exempting people because they have difficulty breathing.

Do you know who has difficulty breathing?

If you have difficulty breathing, you need to stay home and self-quarantine. The reason? One of the major complications of COVID-19 is difficulty breathing. It’s what sends most people to the hospital. It’s what causes people to need a ventilator. What Walmart is doing with this horrible policy is saying that if you have COVID-19 and have difficulty breathing, you don’t have to wear a face covering at Walmart. You can go to Walmart and spew your COVID-19 germs to everyone, without impedance.

It’s ridiculous. You wear a face covering so you don’t spread your germs to others. If I wear a mask, it protects you. If you wear a mask, it protects me. Why is this concept so hard for some people to understand?

People are stupid. I get that. It’s why the government has to step in and tell people to wear a face covering and stay at least six feet apart during a pandemic. When retail businesses like Walmart ignore government mandates, or worse, create fake exemptions, they’re helping to create a dangerous environment for both their customers and their employees.

Walmart is not above the law

I get the fact that Walmart conducts itself as though the laws of man do not apply to it. That doesn’t mean it’s true. By creating its own fake exemption to Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order, it’s creating a serious health risk. If you shop at Walmart, you are taking the risk of contracting COVID-19.



Rick Rottman

Californian living in Maryland. Veteran of the United States Air Force. I enjoy rooting against your favorite sports team.