Following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), several major grocery chains have dropped their mask requirements for vaccinated shoppers.
The CDC announced on May 14 that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks or social distance indoors. While the announcement was met with some confusion, many people, including CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, see it as the start of a "moment where we can get back to some semblance of normalcy."
People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they receive their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after receiving their first and only dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Some areas are still keeping mask mandates in place, despite the CDC announcement. Store policies may vary based on state and local guidance.
Aldi said that after "careful review" of the new guidelines from the CDC and "thoughtful discussions with teams across our organization," they would no longer require masks or face coverings for fully vaccinated shoppers, unless required by state or local jurisdictions, as of May 18. Unvaccinated customers will still be required to wear masks, and on May 26, fully vaccinated store employees will no longer be required to wear masks.
BJ's Wholesale Club
After the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks indoors, BJ's said that they would adapt that policy across their stores, except for in places with local or state mandates that require mask-wearing. On May 15, mask mandates for shoppers were lifted, and on May 18, the mandate was lifted for vaccinated employees.
The store did note that people in the chain's optical departments would still need to wear masks, because that area of the store is considered a "healthcare setting."
Costco announced on May 14 that fully vaccinated shoppers did not need to wear masks in their stores in areas that do not have mask mandates. The company said in a press release that they "will not require proof of vaccination" but asks "for members' responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy."
Customers in some areas of the store, including the pharmacy, optical and hearing aid departments, will still have to wear masks, because those are considered health care settings.
CVS Pharmacy said on May 17 that they would adapt the new CDC guidance and would not require fully vaccinated customers to wear masks in stores unless other state or local mandates are in place. Employees will still be required to wear masks, and customers who are not fully vaccinated have been asked to continue wearing their masks.
"Health, safety and science will continue to drive our decision-making process," said the company in a press release.
Publix said that fully vaccinated individuals inside their stores do not have to wear masks unless required by a state or local mandate. Shoppers who are not fully vaccinated will still be "required to use face coverings over their nose and mouths" while shopping.
Masks or face coverings will also be optional for fully vaccinated store employees.
Sam's Club announced on May 14 that they would no longer require fully vaccinated employees or shoppers to wear face masks, unless other local or state mandates are in place. The store said that they were "reviewing whether masks may still be required for certain job codes for health and sanitation purposes."
Sprouts Farmer's Market announced that as of May 12, they would not require customers to wear masks unless they are in an area with state or local mask mandates. In areas where masks are still required, customers can also choose to wear a face shield, whether or not they have been vaccinated. Unvaccinated shoppers are "strongly" encouraged to wear a face covering while shopping.
Target announced that fully vaccinated shoppers and employees would not have to wear masks in stores except where required by local or state ordinances. People who are not yet vaccinated are "strongly recommended" to continue wearing face coverings.
Trader Joe's was the first store to drop its mask rules for vaccinated shoppers, announcing on May 14 that fully vaccinated shoppers do not have to wear masks unless there are state or local mandates in place.
"We encourage customers to follow the guidance of health officials, including, as appropriate, CDC guidelines that advise customers who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks while shopping," said Trader Joe's on its website.
Walmart said on May 14 that fully vaccinated employees or shoppers would not have to wear masks, unless state or local mandates are in place. The store may still require some employees to wear masks depending on their work responsibilities.