Leading Retailers Dropping Mask Mandates for Fully Vaccinated Customers, Employees
Target, Walmart, CVS, Starbucks, Meijer, and Costco are among the retailers that have dropped their mask requirement for customers and employees who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in wake of the newest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Specifically, on May 16, the CDC said that fully vaccinated Americans, for the most part, no longer need to wear masks indoors and don’t have to wear masks outdoors, even in crowded spaces.
Target's updated mask policy, for example, started Monday for customers and employees, but the retailer still strongly recommends unvaccinated customers and employees wear masks. And customers who live in areas that have state or local mask requirements may still have to wear them, regardless of vaccination status. Costco said Friday that customers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will not need to wear a mask in its stores, unless one is required by state or local laws, but that face coverings are still required in healthcare settings, such as Costco’s pharmacy, optical and hearing aid areas. Walmart stores will have updated signs that reflect its new policy. In addition, its executive team also said it's offering a $75 cash incentive and the freedom to work mask-free as part of a push to get more of its workforce vaccinated.
Total Retail's Take: This is good news for many Americans, who are looking forward to working or shopping the way they were used to pre-pandemic. However, it doesn't come without some concerns and confusion. First on the list is how businesses will enforce the new policy since it seems unlikely they will require or even ask for proof of a COVID-19 vaccine. Walmart executives, for example, said the company “will continue to request that non-vaccinated customers and members wear face coverings in our stores and clubs," but they didn't say if, or how, it will verify if customers are vaccinated. For employees who want to work without wearing a mask at a store, distribution center or other facility, Walmart said it will verify their status by asking them if they've gotten vaccinated. It will rely on the person’s answer during a daily health assessment. Furthermore, since there are many states that haven't complied with the new CDC rules, the situation can become even more confusing. For example, several major chains, including The Home Depot and Kroger Co., announced that they would keep mask mandates in place for now.