HALIFAX -- Face masks aren’t mandatory in Canada, but some retailers are pushing for customers to wear them to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Costco, Marshalls, Winners and Old Navy are among some of the retailers asking Canadian shoppers to put on a face mask before shopping in their stores.

Jim Cormier with the Retail Council of Canada says what might work for one location could be more difficult for another.

“We appreciate the fact that it has been guidance, but not mandates in this case,” said Cormier.

“We’ll see what happens here in Canada. That’s when it really starts to tread on privacy issues and asking customers to do things that they might see as not being any of their business as a retailer, but, you know, it’s different times.”

Last week, Canada’s chief public health officer officially recommended wearing non-medical face masks when maintaining a two-metre distance isn’t possible.

Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters that the language on masks had shifted from “permissive” to a “specific recommendation.”

While more retailers are urging Canadians to wear face masks, and more customers are choosing to do so, some say they hope it doesn’t become mandatory.

“It would be better to persuade people and, maybe if different stores could say, ‘if you have a mask, please wear it,’ that would be nice, I think,” said Janet Jericho, who was wearing a mask on the streets of Halifax on Monday.

“You can’t force people to. That just irritates people.”

Another issued being raised about face masks is the safety of employees -- but not from COVID-19.

Some convenience stores in the Halifax area are asking customers to temporarily lower their masks before entering the store so they can be easily identified.

On Monday, Halifax Regional Police released photos of a man suspected of robbing an Irving gas station on Fairfax Drive on April 6.

Police say the man, who was wearing a medical mask, demanded money and threatened the staff with a knife, though no knife was seen.

The suspect fled the scene with cash, a small safe and some cigarettes.