Some of the nation’s biggest retailers are updating their mask policies in light of new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC announced last week that it’s now recommending that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks in public, indoor spaces in areas where there is substantial or high transmission of the coronavirus.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the agency changed its mask recommendation because new data shows that some people infected with the highly transmissible delta variant can spread the virus to others even after being vaccinated.
Below are statements from retailers that have changed their mask requirements as a result of the spread of the delta variant:
In a statement, Target said it will now require its workers to wear face coverings and the company will "strongly recommend" that all guests wear masks in areas where coronavirus case rates are high.
"The health and safety of our guests and team members have been Target’s top priority throughout the pandemic. Target will continue to recommend face coverings for unvaccinated team members and guests at all stores across the country. Effective Tuesday, based on the CDC’s updated guidance, we’ll require face coverings for our team members and strongly recommend face coverings for all guests in areas with substantial or high risk of transmission, as defined by the CDC," the company wrote in part.
Kroger, the largest U.S. grocery chain, said in a statement that it requires unvaccinated workers to wear masks and asks unvaccinated customers to do the same while in its stores. The company said it’s also strongly encouraging all customers to wear masks at its locations, including those who are vaccinated.
“Our current mask guidance requires unvaccinated associates to wear masks and requests that unvaccinated customers wear masks when in our stores and facilities. In light of the delta variant and updated CDC recommendations, we strongly encourage all individuals, including those who are vaccinated, to wear a mask when in our stores and facilities,” wrote the company in part.
Kroger is also now offering its associates a $100 one-time payment for receiving the recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Walmart said in a statement that it’s requiring its employees to wear masks in areas with high transmission of the virus and the retailer is strongly encouraging customers to wear face coverings too.
“As mentioned, we will follow CDC guidance, which includes fully vaccinated people wearing masks in public indoor settings in counties with substantial or high transmission. In these counties and where there are state or local mask mandates, associates will be required to wear masks inside our facilities, including stores, clubs, distribution centers, and fulfillment centers,” wrote the company.
Walmart is also increasing the amount it’s paying its workers to get vaccinated from $75 to $150.
The Home Depot said that beginning Aug. 2, it is requiring all of its workers to wear face coverings in its U.S. stores and it’s asking customers to wear masks at its locations as well.
“As the delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the U.S., beginning August 2, we’ll require all associates, contractors, and vendors to wear a mask while indoors at all U.S. Home Depot stores, distribution centers, office locations, and customers’ homes or businesses, regardless of vaccination status. We’ll ask customers to wear masks while in our stores and continue to offer masks to those who don’t have one,” wrote the company.
Publix, a grocery chain in several southern states, said that starting Aug. 2, it’s requiring its workers to wear face coverings at its stores regardless of their vaccination status.
"Effective Aug. 2, Publix is requiring associates, regardless of their vaccination status, to wear face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside any Publix location. We encourage all to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19. Customers and associates should remain physically distanced from others while inside any Publix store," wrote the company.
Meijer, a grocery chain with stores throughout the Midwest, said in a statement that it’s "encouraging" all of its workers and customers to wear face coverings at its stores.
"We are encouraging our team members and customers to wear face coverings regardless of their vaccination status, and we are currently updating signage in our stores to reflect this."
The fast-food giant will reportedly require all customers and staff to wear masks in restaurants located in communities that the CDC has determined to have "high or substantial transmission," regardless of vaccination of status.
McDonald's says it was already requiring staff members and unvaccinated customers to wear masks in their stores.
This story will be continually updated as more stores update their mask policies in response to the CDC's new recommendations.