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Trader Joe's says fully vaccinated customers don't have to wear masks in stores

Trader Joe's customers don't have to wear a mask while shopping, the grocery chain said Friday.The news follows...

Posted: May 14, 2021 1:32 PM

Trader Joe's customers don't have to wear a mask while shopping, the grocery chain said Friday.

The news follows new guidance that allows fully vaccinated people to go without masks under most circumstances.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated people don't have to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except when in healthcare settings, on public transportation, or in other areas where governments require masks. People will still need to follow workplace and local businesses' mask guidance, the CDC said.

"We encourage customers to follow the guidance of health officials, including, as appropriate, CDC guidelines that advise customers who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks while shopping," the grocery chain said in a statement on its website Friday.

Trader Joe's is keeping many of its pandemic policies in place, such as wellness checks for employees and spacing people out within its stores, according to the company's statement. The grocery chain will not request or require proof of vaccination from its customers, Trader Joe's spokesperson Kenya Friend-Daniel told CNN Business in an email. She noted that employees still have to wear masks at this time.

Many retailers are leaving their policies unchanged for now. For example, Walgreens has decided to keep its mask policy in place after taking some time to review its requirements, according to spokesperson Emily Mekstan.

"As a destination for COVID vaccine and testing, we have decided to keep our current face covering policy in place for the time being," Mekstan told CNN Business in an email Friday.

On its Covid-19 FAQ site, last updated on May 6, the company said "customers are required to wear face covers before entering the store except where doing so would inhibit the individual's health or where the individual is under 2 years of age." Kroger and others are still requiring customers to wear masks in stores.

Unions representing grocery store workers and retail workers said Thursday stores should continue requiring customers to wear masks to protect workers. Marc Perrone, president of United Food and Commercial Workers' union, called the CDC guidance "confusing," adding that it "fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks."

Lisa LaBruno, senior executive vice president at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said on Thursday the guidance "creates ambiguity" for retailers because the national guidance may be out of step with local orders.

"These conflicting positions put retailers and their employees in incredibly difficult situations," she said.

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