Masks on ... or off? Retailers reverse course, ‘strongly recommend’ customers wear masks
Only McDonald’s requiring face-coverings
Retail and food chains across the country have updated their mask policies following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stating that fully vaccinated people should wear masks indoors where COVID-19 is in “substantial” or “high” transmission.
That would include much of Arizona, including Yavapai County, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The CDC changed its guidance in response to the rising spread of the new, highly transmissible delta variant and low vaccination rates in many areas of the United States.
Mask policies have challenged stores throughout the pandemic and led to disputes between opponents of masks and frontline workers trying to enforce safety measures. Most large chains had removed face covering requirements for vaccinated shoppers, after CDC guidance at the time easing mask-wearing for people who have been vaccinated. Stores have continued to ask unvaccinated shoppers to wear masks.
Following are the updated mask rules at some of the largest stores or chains in the state:
• Walmart will, according to its website, in counties with substantial or high risk of transmission and where there are state or local mask mandates, require workers to wear masks inside its facilities, including stores and distribution and fulfillment centers.
Walmart is asking shoppers to wear masks inside stores in counties deemed at high risk, but is not requiring it. Walmart will also post signs to remind customers about the CDC's revised guidance and encourage them to wear masks.
• McDonald's states that customers and staff inside restaurants in areas with high or substantial transmission will be required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. The chain added the policy change reflects CDC guidance. The fast-food chain also stated masks have already been required for staff and customers who are not vaccinated.
• Target will require masks for workers and recommends masks for all customers in areas with substantial or high risk of transmission. "We'll follow all local mandates, as we have throughout the pandemic, and continue to monitor guidance from the CDC closely," Target says.
• Costco "strongly recommends that all members and guests wear face masks inside our locations" in areas with high or substantial transmission risk, according to the company's website. Costco does not require masks.
• Home Depot is requiring all workers to wear masks in all stores, regardless of vaccination status or the transmission risks of the area. "We'll ask customers to wear masks while in our stores and continue to offer masks to those who don't have one," Home Depot says.
• Kroger / Fry’s "strongly encourages" all workers and customers to wear a mask in stores and facilities, but does not require them. "We will continue to abide by all state and local mandates and encourage all Americans to get vaccinated, including our associates," the company says.
• Starbucks recommends customers wear facial coverings, regardless of vaccination status, company officials stated. Where mandated by local law or regulation, Starbucks will require customers wear masks in our stores. Starbucks employees are also required to wear masks on their shift.
Currently, Arizona, Yavapai County and local governments, and schools by state decree, are not mandating masks.
Courier Editor Tim Wiederaenders contributed to this article.
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