Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Costco say vaccinated customers don’t have to wear masks unless locally mandated

Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Costco say vaccinated customers don’t have to wear masks unless locally mandated


Several states and numerous big-box stores have embraced new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors or out in most situations.Beginning Saturday, a spokesperson for BJ’s Wholesale Club says customers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are no longer required to wear face coverings unless local or state regulations say otherwise. The changes go into effect on Tuesday, May 18, for workers.Also on Saturday, fully vaccinated associates and customers will not be required to wear face coverings at Publix grocery stores.”As a result of the recently updated U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, Publix will no longer require fully vaccinated associates or customers to wear face coverings, unless required by a state or local order or ordinance, beginning May 15,” a statement from the company said.Starbucks will make facial coverings optional for vaccinated customers starting on Monday, the company announced on its website.”Facial coverings will be optional for vaccinated customers beginning Monday, May 17, unless local regulations require them by law,” it said.However, its restrooms will continue to remain closed to customers in locations where café seating is unavailable.On Friday, Walmart executives sent out a letter to Walmart and Sam’s Club stores as well as supply chain facilities encouraging employees to get vaccinated. The letter noted that as of Friday, “vaccinated customers and members are welcome to shop without a mask,” while unvaccinated shoppers are asked to keep wearing masks in stores.Employees who are fully vaccinated will be permitted to work without masks starting May 18, the letter said, adding that some workers may have to continue to wear masks for health or sanitation reasons.The letter added that “masks will also continue to be required by some city and state ordinances, and we will follow those requirements.”At Costco, vaccinated customers can shop without masks in US locations where there are no state or local mask mandates.”We will allow members and guests who are fully vaccinated to enter Costco without a face mask or face shield,” in those areas, the company said in a message posted to its website Friday. “Costco continues to recommend that all members and guests, especially those who are at higher risk, wear a mask or shield.”Costco won’t require proof that customers have been vaccinated. Instead, the message said, “we ask for members’ responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy.”All customers will still have to wear face coverings in Costco’s pharmacy and other healthcare settings, the company specified. They will also have to wear them if they are in stores in locations where there are mask mandates.In a news release issued Friday, Trader Joe’s updated its mask policy and said fully vaccinated customers won’t have to wear a mask while shopping.Walt Disney World also announced changes to its mask rules for guests.The resort located in Orlando, Florida announced Friday that masks and face coverings for guests will be “optional in outdoor common areas” at Disney World starting on Saturday. The exception being that guests “must wear face coverings from the entrances at all attractions, theaters or transportation and throughout those experiences,” the company said.So that means if you’re walking down Main Street, U.S.A., you don’t have to wear a mask but if you’re riding Space Mountain, you’ll still have to. Universal Orlando Resort, a Disney competitor in Orlando that houses attractions from Harry Potter and Jurassic Park, also announced Friday that it was updating its COVID-19 safety measures. Like Disney’s new requirements, it says that masks are not “mandatory” while outdoors but are still “required in all indoor locations including shops and restaurants” and required at all attractions. Disney did not say if and when it would change mask guidance and safety measures at its other parks.Disney’s announcement airline stocks soaring, though the CDC guidance still calls for masks in crowded indoor settings such as planes, buses, trains, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, and says people should obey local and state regulations.Other states and businesses took a wait-and-see attitude Friday amid questions of whether the new stand is safe or workable, given that there is no easy way to know who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t. The guidelines essentially leave it up to people to do the right thing.Labor groups and others warned that employees at stores, restaurants and other businesses could be left exposed to the coronavirus from customers and could be forced into the unwanted role of “vaccination police.”Several major chains, including Home Depot and grocer Kroger Co., announced that they would keep mask mandates in place for now. But Sean Weinberg took down mask signs Friday at Restaurant Alba in Malvern, Pennsylvania, which he runs with his wife. He also emailed his employees to let them know they can forgo masks at work if they are fully vaccinated.”It’s just a headache we don’t want to have to fight any more,” he said of the mask requirement.CLICK HERE FOR A MASK GUIDANCE ACCORDING TO YOUR VACCINE STATUS States such as Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Kentucky, Washington and Kansas announced plans to fall in line with the CDC guidance either immediately or in the coming weeks. In a video statement, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the new approach makes clear that vaccines are the fastest way to get back to doing the things “we all love.” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called the guidance a “gamechanger.””This is a heck of a benefit,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. “People who have been annoyed by this mask … that shot is a ticket to freedom from masks.”Other states, such as Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island, were waiting, though a spokesperson for Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said an update was coming “in the near future.” California’s Department of Public Health said it was still reviewing the guidelines. “I think this is early,” Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis said on San Francisco’s KGO-TV. “Frankly, the idea of people not covering their faces indoors when they’re gathered together, it’s concerning that there would be ongoing transmission.”The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said the 1.7 million-member union is still trying to sort out what the change means. Many schools already had been ditching mask orders in recent weeks. Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson, South Dakota’s lone congressman, marked the announcement by sharing a video demonstrating how cast-off masks can now be used for things like suit pocket handkerchiefs, bookmarks or beer cozies.”It seems too wasteful to just throw them away,” he said. “I think I’ll have my mother make them into a quilt.”And Shelby Lofton, a reporter for WKYT-TV in Lexington, Kentucky, quipped in a tweet: “So, I guess I’ll start wearing lipstick again. Also need to work on my poker face.”Elsewhere, the announcement didn’t mean much because many states and cities already had dropped mask requirements in recent weeks amid improving virus numbers. The tourist town of Branson, Missouri, did so early last month after voting out several mask supporters.”I think it just further supports the decision we made to lift the mask mandate,” said newly elected Mayor Larry Milton. “It was dividing our community. We heard loud and clear from voters that they wanted the mask mandate repealed.”The CDC and the Biden administration have faced pressure to ease restrictions on fully vaccinated people — those who are two weeks past their last required dose — in part to highlight the benefits of the shots and motivate other people to get inoculated.Nearly 47% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and almost 36% is fully vaccinated. Virus cases have dropped to their lowest level since September, at an average of about 35,000 a day, and have fallen by almost one-third in just the past two weeks. Deaths have plummeted to about 620 a day on average, a level not seen since July of last year.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 Kansas, Richard Ranzau, who has emerged in recent weeks as a leading opponent of masks in schools in the Wichita area and formerly served on the county commission, said the announcement was overdue.”If you don’t have confidence in the vaccine then why are you getting vaccinated? At this point everyone, at least here in Kansas, everyone has had the opportunity,” he said.In making the announcement, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky noted that the vaccine has proved powerfully effective in preventing serious COVID-19 illness. She cited evidence that infections in people who have gotten their shots tend to be milder, shorter and harder to spread to others. Occasional cases of the fully vaccinated becoming infected have raised concerns, though. The New York Yankees announced before Thursday’s game that shortstop Gleyber Torres tested positive despite being fully vaccinated and having previously contracted the virus during the offseason. Seven fully vaccinated coaches and staff members also tested positive.CNN contributed to this report.

Several states and numerous big-box stores have embraced new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors or out in most situations.

Beginning Saturday, a spokesperson for BJ’s Wholesale Club says customers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are no longer required to wear face coverings unless local or state regulations say otherwise.

The changes go into effect on Tuesday, May 18, for workers.

Also on Saturday, fully vaccinated associates and customers will not be required to wear face coverings at Publix grocery stores.

“As a result of the recently updated U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, Publix will no longer require fully vaccinated associates or customers to wear face coverings, unless required by a state or local order or ordinance, beginning May 15,” a statement from the company said.

Starbucks will make facial coverings optional for vaccinated customers starting on Monday, the company announced on its website.

“Facial coverings will be optional for vaccinated customers beginning Monday, May 17, unless local regulations require them by law,” it said.

However, its restrooms will continue to remain closed to customers in locations where café seating is unavailable.

On Friday, Walmart executives sent out a letter to Walmart and Sam’s Club stores as well as supply chain facilities encouraging employees to get vaccinated. The letter noted that as of Friday, “vaccinated customers and members are welcome to shop without a mask,” while unvaccinated shoppers are asked to keep wearing masks in stores.

Employees who are fully vaccinated will be permitted to work without masks starting May 18, the letter said, adding that some workers may have to continue to wear masks for health or sanitation reasons.

The letter added that “masks will also continue to be required by some city and state ordinances, and we will follow those requirements.”

At Costco, vaccinated customers can shop without masks in US locations where there are no state or local mask mandates.

“We will allow members and guests who are fully vaccinated to enter Costco without a face mask or face shield,” in those areas, the company said in a message posted to its website Friday. “Costco continues to recommend that all members and guests, especially those who are at higher risk, wear a mask or shield.”

Costco won’t require proof that customers have been vaccinated. Instead, the message said, “we ask for members’ responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy.”

All customers will still have to wear face coverings in Costco’s pharmacy and other healthcare settings, the company specified. They will also have to wear them if they are in stores in locations where there are mask mandates.

In a news release issued Friday, Trader Joe’s updated its mask policy and said fully vaccinated customers won’t have to wear a mask while shopping.

Walt Disney World also announced changes to its mask rules for guests.

The resort located in Orlando, Florida announced Friday that masks and face coverings for guests will be “optional in outdoor common areas” at Disney World starting on Saturday. The exception being that guests “must wear face coverings from the entrances at all attractions, theaters or transportation and throughout those experiences,” the company said.

So that means if you’re walking down Main Street, U.S.A., you don’t have to wear a mask but if you’re riding Space Mountain, you’ll still have to.

Universal Orlando Resort, a Disney competitor in Orlando that houses attractions from Harry Potter and Jurassic Park, also announced Friday that it was updating its COVID-19 safety measures. Like Disney’s new requirements, it says that masks are not “mandatory” while outdoors but are still “required in all indoor locations including shops and restaurants” and required at all attractions.

Disney did not say if and when it would change mask guidance and safety measures at its other parks.

Disney’s announcement airline stocks soaring, though the CDC guidance still calls for masks in crowded indoor settings such as planes, buses, trains, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, and says people should obey local and state regulations.

Other states and businesses took a wait-and-see attitude Friday amid questions of whether the new stand is safe or workable, given that there is no easy way to know who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t. The guidelines essentially leave it up to people to do the right thing.

Labor groups and others warned that employees at stores, restaurants and other businesses could be left exposed to the coronavirus from customers and could be forced into the unwanted role of “vaccination police.”

Several major chains, including Home Depot and grocer Kroger Co., announced that they would keep mask mandates in place for now.

But Sean Weinberg took down mask signs Friday at Restaurant Alba in Malvern, Pennsylvania, which he runs with his wife. He also emailed his employees to let them know they can forgo masks at work if they are fully vaccinated.

“It’s just a headache we don’t want to have to fight any more,” he said of the mask requirement.

CLICK HERE FOR A MASK GUIDANCE ACCORDING TO YOUR VACCINE STATUS

States such as Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Kentucky, Washington and Kansas announced plans to fall in line with the CDC guidance either immediately or in the coming weeks.

In a video statement, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the new approach makes clear that vaccines are the fastest way to get back to doing the things “we all love.” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called the guidance a “gamechanger.”

“This is a heck of a benefit,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. “People who have been annoyed by this mask … that shot is a ticket to freedom from masks.”

Other states, such as Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island, were waiting, though a spokesperson for Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said an update was coming “in the near future.”

California’s Department of Public Health said it was still reviewing the guidelines.

“I think this is early,” Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis said on San Francisco’s KGO-TV. “Frankly, the idea of people not covering their faces indoors when they’re gathered together, it’s concerning that there would be ongoing transmission.”

The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said the 1.7 million-member union is still trying to sort out what the change means. Many schools already had been ditching mask orders in recent weeks.

Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson, South Dakota’s lone congressman, marked the announcement by sharing a video demonstrating how cast-off masks can now be used for things like suit pocket handkerchiefs, bookmarks or beer cozies.

“It seems too wasteful to just throw them away,” he said. “I think I’ll have my mother make them into a quilt.”

And Shelby Lofton, a reporter for WKYT-TV in Lexington, Kentucky, quipped in a tweet: “So, I guess I’ll start wearing lipstick again. Also need to work on my poker face.”

Elsewhere, the announcement didn’t mean much because many states and cities already had dropped mask requirements in recent weeks amid improving virus numbers. The tourist town of Branson, Missouri, did so early last month after voting out several mask supporters.

“I think it just further supports the decision we made to lift the mask mandate,” said newly elected Mayor Larry Milton. “It was dividing our community. We heard loud and clear from voters that they wanted the mask mandate repealed.”

The CDC and the Biden administration have faced pressure to ease restrictions on fully vaccinated people — those who are two weeks past their last required dose — in part to highlight the benefits of the shots and motivate other people to get inoculated.

Nearly 47% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and almost 36% is fully vaccinated. Virus cases have dropped to their lowest level since September, at an average of about 35,000 a day, and have fallen by almost one-third in just the past two weeks. Deaths have plummeted to about 620 a day on average, a level not seen since July of last year.

In Kansas, Richard Ranzau, who has emerged in recent weeks as a leading opponent of masks in schools in the Wichita area and formerly served on the county commission, said the announcement was overdue.

“If you don’t have confidence in the vaccine then why are you getting vaccinated? At this point everyone, at least here in Kansas, everyone has had the opportunity,” he said.

In making the announcement, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky noted that the vaccine has proved powerfully effective in preventing serious COVID-19 illness. She cited evidence that infections in people who have gotten their shots tend to be milder, shorter and harder to spread to others.

Occasional cases of the fully vaccinated becoming infected have raised concerns, though.

The New York Yankees announced before Thursday’s game that shortstop Gleyber Torres tested positive despite being fully vaccinated and having previously contracted the virus during the offseason. Seven fully vaccinated coaches and staff members also tested positive.

CNN contributed to this report.


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