Kroeger is dropping its hardline mask policy; vaccinated individuals can enter without a mask beginning Thursday, May 20th.
The announcement follows the updated Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, dropping the mask requirements for fully vaccinated shoppers.
“Starting May 20, fully vaccinated customers and most fully vaccinated associates no longer need to wear a mask in our facilities, including stores, distribution centers, plants, and offices, unless otherwise required by state or local jurisdiction,” the company said in a statement.
“If there is a state or local mandate, we will adhere to that requirement and its timeline,” it continued, adding that non-vaccinated associates will still be required to mask up, as will pharmacy associates.
“We request that non-vaccinated customers continue to wear a mask. And we will continue to respect the choice of individuals who prefer to continue to wear a mask,” the company added:
Kroger and other major companies and retailers have dropped their hardline mask mandates. Unvaccinated customers are requested to wear masks, but customers are not required to present proof of vaccination before entering and shopping in the facilities.
Kroger will continue to implement enhanced cleaning and physical distancing across all its facilities and offer employees a $100 one-time payment for being fully vaccinated.
Last week, Walmart dropped its mask policy.
“Beginning (May 14), vaccinated customers and members are welcome to shop without a mask, and we will continue to request that non-vaccinated customers and members wear face coverings in our stores and clubs. We will update the signage in our facilities to reflect this,” the company said in a statement.
Target and Home Depot this week are allowing vaccinated guests to shop mask-free, while unvaccinated customers have to wear face coverings.
“Given the CDC’s updated guidance last week, Target will no longer require fully vaccinated guests and team members to wear face coverings in our stores, except where local ordinances require it,” Target said in a statement, adding it would continue to “strongly” recommend unvaccinated guests to cover their face.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Biden on the Chinese coronavirus, said this week he believes Americans are “misinterpreting” the latest CDC guidance, clarifying it is “not” equivalent to removing mask mandates.
“I think people are misinterpreting, thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone. It’s not,” Fauci said during an Axios virtual event.
“It’s not their fault,” he continued. “People either read them quickly, or listen and hear half of it. They are feeling that we’re saying: ‘You don’t need the mask anymore.’ That’s not what the CDC said.”
“They said: If you are vaccinated, you can feel safe — that you will not get infected either outdoors or indoors,” Fauci continued. “It did not explicitly say that unvaccinated people should abandon their masks.”
Earlier this week, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director identified businesses unable to distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated customers as an “issue” and “problem.”