Amid a cloud of uncertainty, major retailers are revising their mask mandates.
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks either inside or outside, some states and localities still have mask mandates in place.
As of Friday, Costco, Trader Joe’s and retail giant Walmart said they will adjust their policies.
Costco will let anyone who is fully vaccinated shop without a face mask or face shield, and will not ask shoppers shunning a mask to prove they have been vaccinated, according to the Washington Examiner.
Trader Joe’s will have a similar policy, but its policies that require face coverings for employees, social distancing rules and frequent store cleanings, will stay for now.
Walmart announced its changes on its website.
“Beginning today, vaccinated customers and members are welcome to shop without a mask, and we will continue to request that non-vaccinated customers and members wear face coverings in our stores and clubs. We will update the signage in our facilities to reflect this,” the company said.
The company noted that “Masks will also continue to be required by some city and state ordinances, and we will follow those requirements. There may also be local conditions, regulatory changes or laws that affect our guidance.”
Walmart also announced that as of Tuesday, its employees who have been fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks. The company, which said it will give each vaccinated employee a $75 bonus, said employees have to provide proof of vaccination.
Target, CVS and Kroger are taking a breath before changing current policies requiring masks, according to USA Today.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association said the CDC’s change on wearing masks will create confusion for stores and workers.
“We urge all retail customers and guests to follow a store’s safety protocols including wearing a mask and social distancing,” Lisa LaBruno, a senior executive vice president for the trade group, said in a statement, according to The Washington Post.
“Frontline workers deserve this respect. Retailers encourage customers that do not want to wear a mask to shop online or via curbside pickup offerings,” she said.
The president of the United Food and Commercial Workers said the guidance spells trouble for retail employees “who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks.”
“Vaccinations are helping us take control of this pandemic, but we must not let our guard down,” union President Marc Perrone said in a statement. “Essential workers are still forced to play mask police for shoppers who are unvaccinated and refuse to follow local COVID safety measures. Are they now supposed to become the vaccination police?”
Although the CDC decision was greeted with joy by many, the rules also have some people cautious.
Phil Belongia, 41, of Racine, Wisconsin, said how stories respond could determine where he shops when he is with his children, who are too young for a vaccine.
“It will definitely change where I stop, or where we stop, depending on if the kids are with me,” said Belongia, who intends to keep wearing his mask in public. “It’d be great if everyone actually followed the recommendations, but I don’t fully trust people.”
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