Due to the surge in the COVID-19 Delta variant and updated guidance on masks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several retailers are reverting to requiring masks. Many of these chains had dropped masks requirements in May.
Last week, the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. These areas can be found on the interactive chart on the CDC website.
The decision was made with the data and science available to CDC at the time, including a public health partnership resulting in rapid receipt and review of unpublished data, the CDC said in a statement last week.
“Today, some of those data were published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), demonstrating that Delta infection resulted in similarly high SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in vaccinated and unvaccinated people,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in the statement. “High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus. This finding is concerning and was a pivotal discovery leading to CDC’s updated mask recommendation. The masking recommendation was updated to ensure the vaccinated public would not unknowingly transmit virus to others, including their unvaccinated or immunocompromised loved ones.”
Target said in a statement that as of August 2 and based on the CDC’s updated guidance, it will require face coverings for its team members and strongly recommend face coverings for all guests in areas with substantial or high risk of transmission, as defined by the CDC.
“The health and safety of our guests and team members have been Target’s top priority throughout the pandemic,” the company said in the statement.
“We’ll follow all local mandates, as we have throughout the pandemic, and continue to monitor guidance from the CDC closely. We will also maintain all of our health and safety protocols that include increased cleaning measures and social distancing.”
Target also said it was encouraging its team members and guests to get the COVID-19 vaccine “by offering vaccine appointments at nearly all CVS at Target locations and providing paid time and free Lyft rides to team members when they get their vaccines,” according to the statement.
Walmart said it will continue to follow the latest CDC guidance, which includes fully vaccinated people wearing masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission, effective immediately, according to a statement.
“We continue to watch with deep concern the developments of the pandemic and the spread of variants, especially the Delta variant. We know vaccinations are our solution to drive change. We are urging you to get vaccinated and want to see many more of you vaccinated. We realize there is a small number of our associates who cannot get vaccinated due to medical issues or religious reasons,” the company said in the statement.
The company added it will implement a new process for verification of vaccine status for U.S. associates and will share more specific details about this process in the near future.
The supermarket chain said in a statement it had received feedback from and heard the valued opinions of thousands of associates regarding the CDC’s announcement last week.
“Based on the CDC’s science-based guidance and the input of our associates, we are updating our mask policy in a way that balances our values of safety and respect. Our current mask guidance requires unvaccinated associates to wear masks and requests that unvaccinated customers wear masks when in our stores and facilities,” according to the statement.
“In light of the Delta variant and updated CDC recommendations, we strongly encourage all individuals, including those who are vaccinated, to wear a mask when in our stores and facilities. We will continue to abide by all state and local mandates and encourage all Americans to get vaccinated, including our associates,” the company added.
In addition, the company said it would continue to implement enhanced cleaning and physical distancing across all facilities as well as offer associates a $100 one-time payment for receiving the recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the statement.
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Home Depot said in a statement that as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the U.S., “beginning August 2, we’ll require all associates, contractors and vendors to wear a mask while indoors at all U.S. Home Depot stores, distribution centers, office locations and customers’ homes or businesses, regardless of vaccination status. We’ll ask customers to wear masks while in our stores and continue to offer masks to those who don’t have one.”
It added that it also continues to strongly encourage all associates to get the COVID-19 vaccine and offers free resources to cover childcare, transportation and find an appointment.
Effective Tuesday, August 3, Kohl’s will require its store associates in counties with substantial or high risk of transmission, as identified by the CDC, to wear masks while in store, according to a statement.
“We also recommend that customers in substantial and high-risk counties wear masks while shopping. As always, we are following state and local mask mandates. We continue to encourage Kohl’s associates to get the COVID-19 vaccine and are providing resources to help them do that,” the company said in the statement.
The supermarket chain said it would recommend people in areas of substantial- or high-transmission risk wear face coverings over their noses and mouths when in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.
“Effective August 2, Publix is requiring associates, regardless of their vaccination status, to wear face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside any Publix location. We encourage all to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19,” the company said in a statement.
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Apple has restored a mask requirement at most of its U.S. retail stores for both customers and staff, according to a memo viewed by Bloomberg.
The company will again require masks for shoppers and employees at more than half of its about 270 U.S. stores, Bloomberg reports.
“After carefully reviewing the latest CDC recommendations, and analyzing the health and safety data for your local area, we are updating our guidance on face masks for your store,” Apple said in the memo, according to Bloomberg. “Starting July 29, face masks will be required in store for customers and team members — even if they’re vaccinated.” The company added it is making the change “out of an abundance of caution.”
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