As vaccinations are becoming more available and consumers are continuing to set appointments, states across the country are easing up on their ordinances. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) continues to update its guidelines, stating it is now safe for fully vaccinated people to go without a mask in both indoor and outdoor settings. Some American retailers are following suit and are relaxing their mask policies. Among these retailers are Walmart—one of the first to announce its new guidelines last Friday—Costco, and Trader Joe’s.
In a statement made on Friday, Walmart is encouraging all of its employees to get vaccinated. Once they have done so, and provide the proof, they will no longer need to wear a mask in stores. The statement also explained that vaccinated customers did not need to wear face coverings. (All of these guidelines are subject to city and state ordinances, which Walmart acknowledged it would follow.)
Costco put out a statement on its website last Friday as well, explaining that vaccinated customers do not need to wear a mask in U.S. locations where there are no state or local mask mandates. According to a report from CNN Business, Costco will not require proof of vaccination and asks that its shoppers are honest and responsible.
Trader Joe’s also released a statement on Friday, writing that, “we encourage customers to follow the guidance of health officials, including, as appropriate, CDC guidelines that advise customers who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks while shopping,"
Kenya Friend Daniel, National Director of Public Relations for Trader Joe’s, told CNN Business in an email that the grocery chain will not be requesting proof of vaccination from its shoppers. She also explained that Trader Joe’s employees will still be required to wear masks.
Other retailers such as Kroger, reported The Wall Street Journal, are reviewing the CDC’s changes and currently leaving its policies as is, encouraging masks and social distancing. In a statement released last week, Southeastern Grocers appears to be doing the same and is actively encouraging its community to receive either the first or second dose of the vaccine at participating locations.
Lisa LaBruno, Senior Executive Vice President, Retail Industry Leaders Association, noted last week that this guidance from the CDC “creates ambiguity” for retailers, given that the national guidance might not line up with local orders.
“These conflicting positions put retailers and their employees in incredibly difficult situations,” LaBruno remarked.
Deli Market News will continue to keep an eye on the retail sector and report on the latest.