Trader Joe’s updated its COVID-19 resources page to say that fully vaccinated customers no longer need to wear masks in stores, becoming the first major chain to drop its mask policy following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The new guidance, released Thursday, said that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks or socially distance in most indoor or outdoor settings. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky called the change a return to "some semblance of normalcy."
"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.
The specialty supermarket will continue taking safety precautions like conducting employee wellness checks, using plexiglass barriers and cleaning stores and high-touch surfaces frequently, according to its website.
In June 2020, the Consumer Health & Safety Index ranked Trader Joe's as the third-best retailer in the nation for its coronavirus safety protocols, complimenting the chain's "consistency and attention to the most important health and safety factors to consumers."
While some states have already repealed their mask mandates and others are reviewing their restrictions in light of the new CDC guidance, private businesses are still able to set their own rules. Some retailers, including Target and Kroger, said in March that they would still require masks in stores in states where mask mandates were repealed.
Trader Joe's was also one of several retailers that paid employees to get vaccinated, offering employees two hours of regular pay per dose of vaccine received and arranging schedules in a way that allowed employees to get vaccinated.
"We care about our Crew Members," said a Trader Joe's spokesperson in a statement to TODAY in January. "We encourage our Crew Members to get vaccinated and are supporting them in doing so."