Long lines and potential stock shortages have become routine fixtures of trips to the grocery store these days. In order to keep both workers and customers safe, retailers across the country have been continually updating their guidelines on best in-store practices.
Though several cities and states are starting to ease stay-at-home orders, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still recommending that people wear a face mask or face covering when out in public. Now, grocery stores are issuing mandates for shoppers, but whether you must wear a face mask while getting food will largely depend on where you live and where you're going.
Connecticut, Maryland, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are all currently requiring residents to wear face coverings in public places, but the specific rules vary by state. If you do live in one of these states, it's safe to assume that you'll need to cover your face during your next grocery run.
Some retailers have issued nationwide guidelines regarding mask wearing, regardless of local policies.
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Here's how some of the nation's biggest supermarket chains are addressing mask-wearing guidelines.
This grocery chain which has 400 locations in the U.S., said it will defer to local governments regarding face mask rules in its stores.
"As we all navigate this public health crisis together, Albertsons Companies is doing everything we can to prioritize the health and safety of our associates, customers, and communities, and to ensure our customers have access to the food, medications, and other essential goods they need during this critical time," an Albertsons spokesperson told TODAY Food. "We continue to follow all local ordinances with regards to masks and other safety measures. Customers should check with their local store to find out the current policy for masks."
All Aldi store and warehouse employees are now required to wear face masks. According to the store's website, Aldi is advising its customers to wear facial coverings while shopping, but it is not required.
Starting Monday, all shoppers over the age of 2 must wear a face mask that covers their mouth and nose while shopping at Costco.
"This requirement does not apply to children under the age of 2 or to individuals who are unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition," reads a notice on the company's website. "Costco employees are required to wear face coverings, and now we are asking that Costco members do so too. We know some members may find this inconvenient or objectionable, but under the circumstances we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience."
The Kroger Company is recommending, but not requiring, customers to wear face masks while shopping. Store employees, including those work in warehouses and cashiers, are required to wear masks while on duty.
"We have provided masks for all our store associates to wear and are requiring associates to wear them in locations where they are not already mandated," a Kroger spokesperson told TODAY Food. "Additionally, we also encourage all our customers to wear a mask when they visit our stores, or alternatively, consider one of our e-commerce options available at Kroger.com."
This Florida-based retailer with over 1,200 locations says it will follow local ordinances regarding whether face masks are required for customer entry.
"The CDC's recommendations indicate wearing any type of face covering in public places can help slow the spread of the coronavirus," a Publix spokesperson told TODAY Food. The chain started requiring its associates to wear face coverings on April 20.
"In some areas of our operation, there may be local ordinances that require all entering our establishment to wear facial coverings," the spokesperson continued. "In those instances, we would comply with the ordinance and require associates and customers to wear facial coverings."
Target says it will be posting signs outside of its stores if a face mask is required for entry, so before heading to a Target, be prepared.
"We are encouraging healthy hygiene habits among guests, as guided by the CDC, and in areas where local governments are asking residents to wear masks, we have added signage and stationed team members outside stores to remind guests to wear masks while shopping," a Target spokesperson said.
The representative would not comment as to whether shoppers who refuse to wear masks would be turned away.
Trader Joe's is providing crew members with gloves and face masks, but it is not currently requiring customers to don any type of facial covering before shopping. However, a Trader Joe's spokesperson did tell TODAY that it is the store's "preference that customers wear masks when shopping in our stores, so we are strongly urging them to do so."
Walmart shoppers are being encouraged, but not required, to wear face masks. However, according to a statement released April 17, all store workers are required to wear face masks or face coverings.
"Maintaining customer and associate safety remains our top priority," a Walmart spokesperson told TODAY. "We encourage customers to be especially mindful of one another during this unprecedented time and adhere to recommendations that we all use face coverings while in public spaces."
Starting May 4, Whole Foods will be providing free face masks for customers at stores nationwide. While customers who do not wish to wear facial coverings will not be turned away, the Amazon-owned retailer is urging customers to comply with its guidelines.
“As we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our Team Members and customers, in addition to requiring everyone working in our stores to wear face masks, over the next week we will begin requesting that all customers wear masks while shopping in our stores," a spokesperson for Whole Foods Market said.