Trader Joe’s has updated its mask policy and will not require fully vaccinated customers to wear a mask.
The specialty supermarket is believed to be the first major national retailer to make the change after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new masking guidelines Thursday.
Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, announced Friday that it would no longer require fully vaccinated customers or employees to wear masks at both Walmart and Sam’s Club locations.
Costco also dropped its mask policy at some of its clubs starting Friday, but will still require them at pharmacy and optical departments as well as locations with local or state mask mandates.
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“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,” Trader Joe’s said on its COVID-19 page that was updated Friday.
Stores will not require or request proof of vaccination from customers, Trader Joe’s spokesperson Kenya Friend-Daniel told USA TODAY. Employees still have to wear masks at this time.
Last week, the company confirmed to USA TODAY that it dropped senior hours at many of its stores, except where required.
The CDC said Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans, for the most part, no longer need to wear masks indoors and don’t have to wear masks outdoors, even in crowded spaces.
But privately-owned businesses can still require masks, which most of the nation’s largest retailers started mandating last summer. There are other exceptions for when the CDC recommends masks such as in health care settings, transportation hubs such as airports and stations, planes and public transportation.
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Several stores, including CVS and Target, say they are considering making changes to mask policies.
Conflicts at businesses and viral videos of shoppers’ tirades erupted amid the coronavirus pandemic, including at Trader Joe’s. The CDC advised stores not to argue with angry anti-mask customers.
In late June 2020, a woman without a mask at a California Trader Joe’s called employees and shoppers “Democratic pigs” and screamed profanities because she said she felt threatened when a fellow customer cursed her out for not wearing a mask.
Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ union, called the CDC’s guidance confusing and said in a statement that it “fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks.”
Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko