MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Walgreens, Whole Foods and Kroger-owned stores have joined a list of businesses that say fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in their stores, following the CDC's recommendation.
All three stores -- like Walmart, Trader Joe's and Costco before them -- say the policy only changes if local regulations allow it. Unvaccinated patrons still need to wear their masks.
Kroger, which operates Food 4 Less, Foods Co, Ralphs, Harris Teeter, King Soopers, Kroger, Mariano's and others, said fully vaccinated customers and most employees don't need to mask up starting Thursday. Associates in pharmacy and clinic locations will still need to cover their faces.
Walgreens and Whole Foods, however, said mask-wearing is still required for all employees. Their new policies went into effect Wednesday.
Whole Foods will also continue to host dedicated shopping hours to serve customers 60 years and older and others considered high risk for COVID-19.
The CDC said last week that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances such as in healthcare settings, on public transportation, or in areas where governments require masks. The CDC also said people will still need to follow workplace and local businesses' mask guidance.
Here is a list of stores that have commented on their mask policy:
ACME Markets posted on Twitter, "At this time ACME requires masks to be worn by everyone that works or shops in our stores."
Best Buy announced Tuesday that fully vaccinated customers would no longer be required to wear a mask in stores except where required by local ordinance. The company also said masks would be optional for fully vaccinated employees where allowed but that employees working in customers' homes would be required to mask up regardless of vaccination status.
Costco says in stores where the state or local jurisdiction does not have a mask mandate, they will allow members and guests who are fully vaccinated to enter Costco without a face mask or face shield.
Costco Statement: "Based on this new guidance regarding vaccine effectiveness, beginning May 14, 2021, we are modifying our policy regarding face coverings in some U.S. Costco locations.
U.S. locations with no state or local mask requirements - revised policy
In Costco locations where the state or local jurisdiction does not have a mask mandate, we will allow members and guests who are fully vaccinated to enter Costco without a face mask or face shield. We will not require proof of vaccination, but we ask for members' responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy. Face coverings will still be required in healthcare settings, including Pharmacy, Optical, Hearing Aid. Costco continues to recommend that all members and guests, especially those who are at higher risk, wear a mask or shield.
U.S. locations with state or local mask requirements - no policy change
In those Costco locations where the state or local jurisdiction does have a mask mandate, we will follow the state or local regulations and continue to require members and guests to wear a face mask or face shield. Children under the age of 2 are exempt. If a member or guest has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, they must wear a face shield.
As before, our goal is to continue to provide a safe shopping environment for our members and guests and to provide a safe work environment for our employees, while following public health advice and applicable laws."
CVS said it is reevaluating its in-store policy, which requires customers and employees to wear masks, based on the latest CDC guidance. "The safety of our employees and customers will continue to guide our decision-making process," a spokesperson said in an email.
The GIANT Company
Giant posted on Twitter, "Fully vaccinated team members and customers will no longer be required to wear masks inside our stores, in accordance with the CDC's guidance, unless it is mandated by state or local regulations. This guidance will be communicated via new store signage."
Home Depot says customers and employees who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear face masks in their stores, unless local regulations call for them.
Home Depot's Statement: "As we've said throughout the pandemic, our focus is the health and safety of our associates and customers, and we continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Following the CDC's recent announcements, customers and associates who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks or facial coverings in Home Depot stores, except where it's 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."
Macy's is also reviewing its mask policy, a spokesperson said.
Starting on Monday, May 17, masks will be optional for customers at Starbucks who are fully vaccinated. A statement from the company added that this also depends on local regulations.
Starbucks Statement: "It is our responsibility to protect our partners and customers, and we are committed to meeting or exceeding all public health mandates. With widespread vaccine availability and the ongoing progress against COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now recommending that fully vaccinated people can resume indoor activities without wearing a mask, except where required by local regulations or law. As such, facial coverings will be optional for vaccinated customers beginning Monday, May 17, unless local regulations require them by law. As we continue to ensure the health and well-being of our partners and customers, our restrooms generally remain temporarily closed to the public in stores where the café or café seating is unavailable."
In a statement Monday, a Target spokesperson said, "The health and safety of our guests and team members have been Target's top priority throughout the pandemic, and we've closely and consistently followed the CDC's recommendations over time. Given the CDC's updated guidance last week, Target 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."
Target says face coverings will be "strongly recommended" for guests and employees who are not fully vaccinated.
The spokesperson said the stores will continue their safety and cleaning measures.
"Target is offering COVID-19 vaccine appointments at nearly all CVS at Target locations for guests and team members. We're also providing paid time to U.S. hourly team members when they get their vaccines and free Lyft rides, up to $15 each way, for our team to get to and from their appointments," the spokesperson said.
Trader Joe's is dropping its mask mandate for fully vaccinated shoppers.
"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 company said in a statement.
Beginning Friday, vaccinated customers and members can shop without a mask at Walmart stores. A statement from the company said it will continue to request that non-vaccinated customers and members wear face coverings.
This only applies where local ordinances don't require masks in stores.
Fully vaccinated associates will also not need to wear a mask at work starting Tuesday, May 18.
Walmart Statement 5/14/21: "Based on the latest CDC guidance, fully vaccinated associates will not need to wear a mask at work starting Tuesday, May 18.
- According to the CDC, it is safe for fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks in most indoor and outdoor settings.
- "Fully vaccinated" means it has been two weeks since a person received the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or the single dose of Johnson & Johnson.
- This applies to all facilities, including our stores, clubs, distribution centers, fulfillment centers and offices. We'll share more information next week with campus office associates.
- Unvaccinated associates must still wear face coverings, per CDC guidance. We are also reviewing whether masks may still be required for certain job codes for health and sanitation purposes and will share additional guidance soon. Some associates may choose to continue to wear masks, and as part of our value of respect for the individual we should all support their right to do so.
- Beginning today, vaccinated customers and members are welcome to shop without a mask, and we will continue to request that non-vaccinated customers and members wear face coverings in our stores and clubs. We will update the signage in our facilities to reflect this.
- Masks will also continue to be required by some city and state ordinances, and we will follow those requirements. There may also be local conditions, regulatory changes or laws that affect our guidance. We will be communicating with your local store, club or facility management team as regulations change so they can keep you informed."
Implementing masking rules
Mask wearing has been a contentious issue throughout the pandemic.
Retail and grocery store workers, restaurant staff and other frontline workers have often been thrust into the role of carrying out their employers' mask rules, sometimes with violent consequences. In the early months of the pandemic, a Family Dollar security officer was shot and killed after telling a customer to wear a mask and in Los Angeles, a Target security guard was left with a broken arm from a fight with two unmasked customers.
Unions representing grocery store workers and retail workers said Thursday that stores should continue requiring customers to wear masks to protect workers.
Marc Perrone, president of United Food and Commercial Workers' union, said the CDC guidance was "confusing" and "fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks."
The guidance "creates ambiguity" for retailers because "it fails to fully align with state and local orders" mandating masks, Lisa LaBruno, senior executive vice president at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in a statement. The group represents top retailers such as Walmart, Target and Home Depot.
"These conflicting positions put retailers and their employees in incredibly difficult situations."
CNN Wire contributed to this report.