Kroger becomes the latest chain to drop its mask mandate

Photo (c) WendellandCarolyn - Getty Images

It follows similar actions from Target and CVS earlier in the week

A week ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed its mask guidance and set off confusion in corporate America.

When the CDC said fully vaccinated Americans no longer needed to wear a mask in most settings, some retailers like Walmart and Costco immediately embraced the move. Others, such as Target and Kroger, maintained their requirement to wear a mask while in their stores.

Target dropped its mask mandate for fully vaccinated people earlier this week, and, effective today, Kroger is doing the same. In an update to its mask policy, the supermarket chain said it is seeking to balance “safety and respect.”

“Starting May 20, fully vaccinated customers and most fully vaccinated associates no longer need to wear a mask in our facilities, including stores, distribution centers, plants, and offices, unless otherwise required by state or local jurisdiction. If there is a state or local mandate, we will adhere to that requirement and its timeline,” the company said in a statement.

Associates who are not fully vaccinated will still be required to wear a mask while in the store. Employees working in pharmacy and clinic locations within the stores will also continue to wear masks whether they are vaccinated or not, a policy similar to Costco’s.

“We request that non-vaccinated customers continue to wear a mask and we will continue to respect the choice of individuals who prefer to continue to wear a mask,” the company said.

Follows Target and CVS

On Monday, Target issued an updated policy saying shoppers who are fully vaccinated will not be required to wear a mask while in the store. 

“Face coverings will continue to be strongly recommended for guests and team members who are not fully vaccinated and we’ll continue our increased safety and cleaning measures, including social distancing, throughout our stores,” the company said.

Also this week, CVSdropped its mask mandate and cited the CDC’s latest guidance.

While more retailers appear to be following the agency’s lead, all stores that have dropped their mask requirements have issued a strong caveat. If a store is located in a state or jurisdiction that still has mask mandates in place, then shoppers and employees in those stores must still wear face coverings.

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