Walmart reported that its fully vaccinated staff and customers can now leave their masks at home, a decision that could influence how other companies respond to the latest government guidelines.
Starbucks also eliminated the mask requirement for vaccinated customers as of May 17, while it will continue to require staff to wear face covers.
Walt Disney World Resort made masks optional in outdoor common areas, though they are still required indoors, at all attractions, theaters, and transportation.
Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, said fully vaccinated staff will not need to wear the mask at work starting May 18, the same day it will report its results for the first quarter of 2021.
The rule applies to all of your Walmart and Sam’s Club locations, distribution centers, and offices in the United States. Vaccinated customers can also shop without covering their faces as of Friday, although some local regulations may still require masks, Walmart executives said in a memo.
The move by the world’s largest retailer marks a significant step toward a return to normalcy in American life, and could set an example for the industry.
Retailers have largely required face masks for shoppers and employees over the past year, leading to occasional clashes with uncooperative customers.
But Apple, Target, and other retailers have yet to relax their requirements on face masks, creating a confusing environment for shoppers and employees alike.
Costco and Trader Joe’s also said Friday that they were eliminating face mask requirements for shoppers. These retailers will not require proof that customers have been vaccinated. Rather, they expect customers to be responsible and cooperative, while remembering to wear face covers in towns and cities that still have face mask mandates.
Apple informed its US retail stores that the order for face masks and other procedures related to Covid-19 remains in effect, although the iPhone maker says it continues to evaluate health and safety measures.
All of their retail stores have required the use of this protection during the pandemic, and some locations have operated on a limited basis, for example, by appointment only.
Several companies are also revising their face mask policies after Thursday’s announcement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that people who are fully vaccinated do not have to wear face masks indoors and they don’t have to keep their distance from others.
Target and Home Depot have decided not to adjust their mask requirements for now. Rite Aid said its policy is still in effect pending state and local rules.
Even with its policy easing, Trader Joe’s will continue to require its employees to wear face masks, a spokeswoman said. At Costco, customers will still have to wear face covers in their pharmacy and optical departments, the company said in a statement.
Walmart also said it would give $ 75 to each employee who gets vaccinated, following companies like Kroger, German grocery store Lidl and Instacart, which have given cash for vaccination vouchers. Other companies have given paid time off to get vaccinated.