A person wearing a protective mask enters a Starbucks coffee shop in San Francisco, California, United States on Thursday, January 21, 2021.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Target and Starbucks have joined a growing list of retailers and restaurants that on Monday will simplify mask requirements for fully vaccinated customers unless local or state laws mandate face coverings.

Companies began changing their guidelines for wearing masks in shops and cafes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that fully vaccinated people no longer need to cover their faces indoors.

Walmart, Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Publix were among the first to make mask-free shopping possible. However, Home Depot, Gap and Ulta Beauty are among the retailers who have announced that they will continue to monitor developments but maintain their pandemic precautions.

In a statement, Target said employees do not need to wear masks if they are also fully vaccinated. It said it would continue other security measures, like additional cleaning and social distancing in its stores.

In its new guidance on Thursday, the CDC said that in most cases, whether indoors or outdoors, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask or stay 6 feet away from others. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or the single dose from Johnson & Johnson.

The sudden change by the federal agency created confusion and criticism. On the weekend, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and the Chief Medical Officer of the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci, rounds on newscasts to explain and defend the policy change.

Some believe the new guidelines will encourage more people to be vaccinated, but others are concerned that policies rely too heavily on people being honest about their vaccination status. The possibility of unvaccinated people going maskless is an issue for those who have not yet been vaccinated or have children under the age of 12 who cannot yet receive the vaccine.

As of Saturday, around 47% of the US population had received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the CDC. According to the agency, around 37% are fully vaccinated.

Walmart executives said in the memo that the retailer “will continue to require unvaccinated customers and members to wear face covers in our stores and clubs.” They said the stores will have updated signs to reflect this new policy. They didn’t say whether or how Walmart will check whether customers are vaccinated or not.

For employees who want to work in a store, distribution center, or other facility without a mask, Walmart will check their status by asking if they have been vaccinated or not. It will be based on the person’s answer of “yes” or “no” in a daily health assessment.

“Integrity is one of our core values, and we trust that employees respect this principle when responding,” the memo reads.

However, in order to receive a vaccination bonus, according to Walmart, employees must present their original, completed vaccination cards to a store manager or HR manager. Starting next Tuesday, each person will be entitled to US $ 75 “as a thank you for the vaccination.” All U.S. employees below the branch manager level are eligible.

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According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear face masks indoors or outdoors in most environments

The company is currently evaluating whether masks may still be required for certain health and hygienic labor regulations and will be releasing additional guidance shortly. Employees can continue to wear masks as they wish.

Walmart’s policy change is a departure from other major retailers, including Target, Gap, and Ulta Beauty, who have announced plans to maintain pandemic logs. However, Trader Joe’s said customers could shop without a mask if they were fully vaccinated.


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The update to Starbucks’ mask policy does not appear to have any impact on the wearing of the mask by baristas. Since February, the coffee chain has been requiring its restaurant employees at company-operated locations in the United States and Canada to wear multi-layer face covers or double masks. Starbucks has required face coverings in its cafes for customers since July 15.

Starbucks shares are up nearly 4% so far this year, giving the company a market value of $ 131 billion. Business was hit by the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, but sales in the same store in the US returned to pre-pandemic levels in the second quarter of fiscal.

The target stocks have risen by almost 20% since the beginning of the year. It has a market value of $ 105 billion.