New CDC guidance prompts retailers to change mask policies, again

Aug 5, 2021
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Written by Washington Retail
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Last Tuesday, July 27, the CDC released new guidance recommending all fully vaccinated Americans to start wearing masks indoors if they live in places with high COVID-19 transmission rates. Currently, this applies to about two-thirds of the U.S. population. Specifically, the updated guidance applies to areas that the CDC categorizes as having “high” and “substantial” transmission rates, as measured by a combination of case count and positivity rate thresholds.

The reversal from the CDC has put retailers in a tricky position, again. For consumers, the county-by-county rules can be confusing, especially for those already vaccinated and feel as if they don’t need to put a mask back on. And last year, when major retail chains first initiated mask mandates, store workers were often the ones who ended up policing bad behavior in stores. Many retailers now have to reinstate their mask policies for fully vaccinated shoppers again.

Here is a list of retailers who have recently changed their mask policies:

  • Walmart began requiring masks for store workers in high-risk counties in the U.S. effective Friday, July 30. Shoppers are not required to wear masks in stores but doing so is highly recommended.
  • Target and Kohl’s began requiring masks for store employees in high-risk counties effective Tuesday, August 3. They will strongly recommend face coverings for all shoppers in those counties but will not be enforcing the guideline.
  • Home Depot began requiring workers, contractors, and vendors to wear masks in its stores, warehouses, offices, customers’ homes, and businesses—regardless of vaccination status—effective August 2. The company is also requesting customers to wear masks in its stores and providing masks for those who don’t have one.

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