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These stores plan to keep requiring masks for now

Several major chains announced that they would keep mask mandates in place for now, some with exceptions depending on state and city rules.

WASHINGTON — While a number of states immediately embraced new guidelines from the CDC that say fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or out in most situations, some businesses are taking a wait-and-see approach. 

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.”

The CDC guidance unveiled Thursday still calls for masks in crowded indoor settings such as airports, planes, buses, trains, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, and says people should obey local and state regulations.

Several major chains have said they would keep mask mandates in place for now while reviewing the new guidance.

Trader Joe's was one of the first major retailers to update their policies to no longer require fully vaccinated shoppers to wear masks. A spokesperson told The Washington Post that other COVID-related policies, like face masks for employees, would stay. 

"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," an update to the COVID-19 policies listed on the Trader Joe's website said

Which companies are keeping mask mandates:


Disney

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.


Simon

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. 


Which stores are dropping mask mandates?

Kroger

Kroger stores will now drop mask mandates for fully vaccinated customers and most fully vaccinated store members after The Kroger Family of Companies said that beginning May 20 the new face covering rules would go into effect.

In a statement the company listed key points in the updated mask and face covering guidance writing that started May 20 "fully vaccinated customers and most fully vaccinated associates no longer need to wear a mask." The company also said that associates who are not vaccinated would still be required to wear a mask. 

Pharmacy associates along with locations with a clinic will still have mask mandates in place. Non-vaccinated customers are asked to still wear a mask. 

All customers and associates who wish to continue wearing a mask are free to do so. The new guidance on masks will also depend on mandates from each state and locality so check with your local store first regarding their individual mask requirements, as it could be different.  


Walgreens

The major retail pharmacy chain announced on May 19 that it would be dropping mask mandates in stores for fully vaccinated people, but the guidance would depend on rules mandated by states and localities. 

Some areas and stores could still require that face coverings over the nose and mouth be worn by customers because of those local laws, for now, so check with your local store for details. 

Meijer 

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.

Harris Teeter

Harris Teeter will now drop their mask mandates for fully vaccinated customers and most fully vaccinated store members after The Kroger Family of Companies announced that starting May 20 the new rules would go into effect.

In a statement the company listed key points in the updated mask and face covering guidance writing that starting May 20 "fully vaccinated customers and most fully vaccinated associates no longer need to wear a mask." The company also said that associates who are not vaccinated would still be required to wear a mask. 

Pharmacy associates along with locations with a clinic will still have mask mandates in place. Non-vaccinated customers are asked to still wear a mask. 

All customers and associates who wish to continue wearing a mask are free to do so. The new guidance on masks will also depend on mandates from each state and locality so check with your local store first regarding their individual mask requirements, as it could be different.  

Giant Eagle

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

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. 

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.

Chipotle

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

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

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.

Kohl's

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.

Publix

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.

Starbucks 

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.

Target

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

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

Walmart said Friday 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 says fully vaccinated employees will be able to stop wearing masks on May 18, but said workers have the choice to continue wearing one if they want.

The Associated Press and WTSP contributed to this report.