Several major chains announced that they are dropping mask mandates for fully vaccinated customers, but there are exceptions.
WASHINGTON — Several states and national retailers have quickly embraced new guidelines from the CDC that say people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks indoors or outside in most situations. But some businesses are taking a wait-and-see approach.
To be considered fully vaccinated, someone must be two weeks past their second dose of the Pfizer of Moderna vaccine or two weeks past the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC said Tuesday that 37.5% of Americans and 47.6% of adults have been fully vaccinated.
Labor groups and others warned that employees at stores, restaurants and other businesses could be left exposed to the coronavirus from customers and could be forced into the unwanted role of “vaccination police.” Several chains are avoiding this potential problem by going with an honor system and not asking customers to confirm their vaccination status. This means some people who have not been vaccinated could say that they are.
Here is a list of which major chains are have dropped mask mandates for the fully vaccinated. Most of them say they will still adhere to any state or local mandates that continue to require masks indoors, regardless of the CDC guidelines which are simply recommendations. Some also will require masks in certain healthcare areas of their stores.
Which stores are dropping mask mandates?
BJ’s Wholesale Club
The retailer said its members and team members who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks, following CDC guidance. But face coverings will continue to be required for everyone on the Optical departments. BJ’s did not say on its updated COVID information page if it will require proof of vaccination.
Fully-vaccinated guests do not need to wear a mask inside of Chipotle restaurants except where required by local regulations, the restaurant chain said on its website. Employees must still wear masks.
Costco said Friday it will allow fully vaccinated members to shop without a mask, except in its Pharmacy, Optical and Hearing Aid sections. It will also follow state and local mandates, so stores in jurisdictions that require masks indoors will continue to enforce the rule. Costco says it won’t be asking for proof of vaccination.
CVS announced Monday that it will no longer require mask masks in its stores for fully vaccinated customers and employees, unless required by state or local regulations.
“Customers who are not fully vaccinated are asked to continue wearing face coverings, and employees are required to do so while at work. Health, safety and science will continue to drive our decision-making process,” an update posted on the CVS website explains.
Giant Eagle said Tuesday it will drop its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers and workers starting May 24. Those not fully vaccinated will still be required to wear a mask, but Giant Eagle gave no indication it will be asking for proof of vaccination.
Home Depot updated its mask policy on Monday so that fully vaccinated customers and associates are not required to wear masks in its stores, except where mandated by state or local ordinances.
“Masks are still encouraged for those who aren’t fully vaccinated, and we’ll keep safety measures in place like enhanced cleaning and social distancing,” the company said in a statement.
All fully vaccinated customers are invited to shop without wearing a mask unless it is required by state or local ordinances. Kohl’s does not indicate it will require proof of vaccination. It encourages non-vaccinated customers and workers to continue wearing masks.
Meijer announced Monday that it has changed its mask policy, allowing for people who are fully vaccinated to shop without a mask.
“Starting today, fully vaccinated customers may shop without a face covering where allowed under state or local law,” a statement from the company reads. “Non-vaccinated customers must continue to wear a face covering while shopping in our stores, except where medical conditions prevent them from wearing one. Our team members will still be required to wear face coverings while we evaluate regulatory requirements.”
The policy change is a turn from the company’s statement last Friday, in which it said its mask mandate would stay in effect.
Publix announced it would no longer require people to wear face masks indoors if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The grocery store chain said it made the change in response to new guidance from the CDC. The changes at Publix take effect May 15.
On Friday, the company announced that face-covering indoors will be optional for fully vaccinated customers starting on Monday, May 17. However, guests will still be asked to wear a mask if local regulations require them by law.
In a statement Monday morning, the Minneapolis-based company said it “will no longer require fully vaccinated guests and team members to wear face coverings in our stores, except where it’s required by local ordinances.” It added that face coverings will continue to be strongly recommended for guests and team members who are not fully vaccinated.
Trader Joe’s says, effective immediately, it will no longer require customers to wear masks in its stores if they are fully vaccinated. In an email, Trader Joe’s said “We do not require proof of vaccination, as we trust our customers to follow CDC guidelines.” Employees at Trader Joe’s will still be required to wear masks.
Walmart said it will allow fully vaccinated customers at Walmart and Sam’s Club to shop without a mask, although it may update that rule for certain areas of the stores. It will also follow state and local mandates, so stores in jurisdictions that require masks indoors will continue to enforce the rule. Walmart said fully vaccinated workers have the choice to continue wearing one if they want.
Which stores are keeping mask mandates for now?
Kroger, which operates nearly 3,000 grocery stores around the U.S., confirmed to KING that it would be keeping its mask mandates for customers and workers for now.
The company said it was reviewing the CDC’s latest guidance, reviewing safety practices and “soliciting feedback from associates to guide the next phase of our policy.”
Walt Disney World is continuing to relax its COVID-19 rules for its guests. According to its website, Disney World says “face coverings are optional in outdoor common areas at Walt Disney World Resort, but are still required upon entering and throughout all attractions, theaters and transportation.”
Disney World’s website says masks are optional in “outdoor common areas” and pool decks. Everywhere else, including all attractions, theaters, transportation and indoor locations masks will still be required. The only exceptions for mask-wearing indoors are when guests are eating or drinking while sitting or standing still.
There was no indication on Disneyland’s website if it would be relaxing mask rules.
Harris Teeter said Friday that at this time it will continue to require everyone in their stores to wear masks.
“As we have throughout the pandemic, we are reviewing current safety practices, the CDC’s latest guidance, and soliciting feedback from our valued associates to guide the next phase of our policy,” the company statement said.
Simon Property Group, which has shopping centers, malls and retail properties in 37 states and Puerto Rico, said Friday that it will continued to require employees, retailer employees and shoppers to wear masks, as well as provide free face coverings upon request.
The Associated Press and WTSP contributed to this report.