Several major retailers update mask policies in response to delta variant, new CDC guidance

Coronavirus

Amid surging COVID-19 cases from the delta variant and revised mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several major retailers are changing their mask policies.

Last week, the CDC changed its recommendations for masking to include both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. In May, the agency had said people who’d gotten the COVID-19 vaccine didn’t need to wear masks.

The new guidance recommends masking in areas of “substantial” or “high” transmission of COVID-19. That recommendation would include 81 of Indiana’s 92 counties, according to the CDC’s COVID-19 transmission map.

The agency changed its guidance after discovering that people can spread the delta variant to others even if they’ve received the vaccine.

As a result of the new guidance, some major retailers are changing their policies regarding masks; many of the companies had said in May that vaccinated customers didn’t have to wear masks based on the CDC’s recommendations at that time. Below are changes some Hoosiers will encounter.

Home Depot

Home Depot required workers to wear masks in its U.S. stores starting Monday, Aug. 2. Customers are being asked to wear masks 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.”

Kroger

Kroger is requiring unvaccinated workers to wear masks and asking unvaccinated customers to do the same. The nation’s largest grocery chain strongly encourages masks for all customers, 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. We will continue to abide by all state and local mandates and encourage all Americans to get vaccinated, including our associates.”

Target

Target will require workers to mask up and said customers “strongly recommend” that all customers wear facial coverings:

“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. We’ll follow all local mandates, as we have throughout the pandemic, and continue to monitor guidance from the CDC closely. We will also maintain all of our health and safety protocols that include increased cleaning measures and social distancing. We encourage our team members and guests to get the COVID-19 vaccine by offering vaccine appointments at nearly all CVS at Target locations and providing paid time and free Lyft rides to team members when they get their vaccines.”

Walmart

Like Target, Walmart is requiring masks for employees and strongly encouraging masks for customers:

“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.”

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