Kroger, Wegmans join companies loosening COVID-19 mask mandates for fully vaccinated customers
Move follows similar actions by CVS, Starbucks, Target
Wegmans and Kroger on Wednesday joined a number of major retailers loosening their coronavirus face mask policies after federal health officials declared that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to cover their faces while in most indoor settings.
Effective immediately, fully vaccinated customers – which is anyone who is two weeks past their last required vaccine dose —are no longer required to wear a face-covering in any one of Wegman's stores "except where mandated at the state or local level," a Wegmans spokesperson told FOX Business.
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The Kroger Family of Companies’ – which oversees more than a dozen grocers including Kroger, announced its stores, distribution centers, plants and offices will follow suit Thursday, dropping the requirement for customers and "most fully vaccinated associates."
However, "if there is a state or local mandate, we will adhere to that requirement and its timeline," The Kroger Family of Companies said in a statement.
For Wegmans, this means masks will still be required at its locations in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Patton Township, Pennsylvania, as well as Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland.
The move by both companies comes just two days after Starbucks, Target and CVS adjusted their own policies in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) latest guidance, saying they won't ask customers to cover up unless it is mandated by state or local regulations.
Customers who are not fully vaccinated, however, will still be asked to continue wearing appropriate face coverings until they are vaccinated.
Additionally, CVS and Starbucks employees are still required to cover up at work while Target employees are "strongly recommended" to do so if they are not vaccinated.
"Face coverings will continue to be strongly recommended for guests and team members who are not fully vaccinated and we’ll continue our increased safety and cleaning measures, including social distancing, throughout our stores," Target said in a note to customers Monday.
Companies like Target that are lifting their policy remain committed to keeping the health and safety of their guests as a "top priority."
In a statement, Starbucks said it will continue "meeting or exceeding all public health mandates."
Similarly, CVS said both health, safety and science will continue to drive its decision-making process.
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In a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life, the CDC eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people last week, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.
"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing," Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said during a White House briefing Thursday.
Fully vaccinated individuals are still advised to wear masks while in crowded indoor settings like public transportation, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, according to the CDC. Immunocompromised individuals are also encouraged to consult a physician before giving up masks, Walensky said Thursday, warning that if the country's case counts go back up the guidance could change.
Within one day of the long-waited announcement, many major companies began lifting their once strictly enforced mask mandates as an increasing number of Americans shed face coverings after getting shots.
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This list includes supermarkets such as Trader Joe's and Publix, both of which updated their guidance Friday, saying those who are fully vaccinated no longer need masks while inside their stores unless it is required by state or local mandates.
Walmart and Sam's Clubs also lifted their mask policies for vaccinated employees as well as customers and members that same day.
"Beginning today, 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," Walmart said in its Friday announcement.
WALMART, COSTCO, TRADER JOE'S, DISNEY WORLD DROP SOME MASK REQUIREMENTS, OTHERS REVIEWING GUIDANCE
Likewise, Costco members and guests who are fully vaccinated will also be allowed "to enter Costco without a face mask or face shield."
FOX Business' Audrey Conklin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.