Shoppers who are vaccinated against COVID-19 can now shop without masks in some Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Sam’s Club, Target and the companies recently announced.
The change follows new guidance that fully vaccinated people can go without masks under most circumstances.
On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except when in healthcare settings, on public transportation, or in other areas where governments require masks. People will still need to follow workplace and local businesses’ mask guidance, the CDC said.
Friday afternoon, Walmart executives sent out a letter to Walmart and Sam’s Club stores as well as supply chain facilities encouraging employees to get vaccinated. The letter noted that as of Friday, “vaccinated customers and members are welcome to shop without a mask,” while unvaccinated shoppers are asked to keep wearing masks in stores.
Walmart did not clarify if customers will be required to show proof of vaccination to enter the store without a mask.
Employees who are fully vaccinated will be permitted to work without masks starting May 18, adding that some workers may have to continue to wear masks for health reasons.
The letter added that “masks will also continue to be required by some city and state ordinances, and we will follow those requirements.”
Costco will also permit vaccinated customers to shop without masks in US locations where there are no state or local mask mandates.
“We will allow members and guests who are fully vaccinated to enter Costco without a face mask or face shield,” in those areas, the company said in a message posted to its website Friday. “Costco continues to recommend that all members and guests, especially those who are at higher risk, wear a mask or shield.”
Costco will not require proof that customers have been vaccinated. Instead, the message said, “we ask for members’ responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy.”
At Trader Joe’s, “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,” the grocery chain said in a statement on its website Friday.
Trader Joe’s is keeping many of its pandemic policies in place, such as wellness checks for employees and spacing people out within its stores, according to the company’s statement. The grocery chain will not require proof of vaccination from its customers. Employees will still be required to wear masks at this time.
On Monday, Target released a statement saying they are allowing fully-vaccinated customers to forego their masks while shopping in stores.
Other retailers are leaving their policies unchanged for now. For example, Walgreens has decided to keep its mask policy in place after taking some time to review its requirements.