Starbucks, Walmart and several other retailers announced over the weekend that they will no longer require face masks for vaccinated customers.
The coffee giant wrote that “facial coverings will be optional for vaccinated customers beginning Monday, May 17, unless local regulations require them by law” in updated guidance posted on the company’s website.
The change comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a major change to its guidance on face masks for fully vaccinated adults, saying they do not have to wear masks indoors or outdoors or even social distance, even when in larger groups.
“You can do things you stopped doing because of the pandemic,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday in announcing the new recommendations.
Starbucks said that some of its health precautions will remain in place. Restrooms at Starbucks locations will “generally remain temporarily closed to the public in stores where the café or café seating is unavailable,” the company said, indicating locations will continue to adhere to enhanced cleaning measures.
The coffee chain added that it is “strongly encouraging” employees to receive the COVID vaccine as soon as they are eligible and will provide two hours of paid time off for employees to receive each dose of the vaccine. Employees are also eligible for up to four hours of paid time off if workers experience vaccine-related side effects and miss a scheduled shift within 48 hours of receiving each shot.
Other major retailers including Walmart, Trader Joe’s, and Cosco announced similarly updated guidance over the weekend.
“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,” Walmart said in a letter to employees. “We will update the signage in our facilities to reflect this.”
However, face masks will “continue to be required by some city and state ordinances, and we will follow those requirements,” Walmart said, and “there may also be local conditions, regulatory changes or laws that affect our guidance.”
Trader Joe’s announced Friday that vaccinated customers may shop without a mask, but employees are still required to wear masks.
“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 store chain said.
Costco, one of the first stores to require shoppers to wear masks, announced that vaccinated shoppers may go mask-less in Costco locations where there is no state or local government mask mandate.
“We will not require proof of vaccination, but we ask for members’ responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy,” Costco wrote in a letter to members. “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.”
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