This designation includes more than two-thirds of US counties. The CDC has changed its guidance in response to the increasing spread of the new highly transmissible Delta variant and low vaccination rates in many parts of the country.
Mask policies have challenged stores throughout the pandemic and led to disputes between mask opponents and frontline workers trying to enforce safety measures. Most major chains had removed face covering requirements for vaccine buyers in May, following CDC guidelines at the time, making it easier for those vaccinated to wear masks. Stores continued to ask unvaccinated shoppers to wear masks.
Walmart is asking shoppers to wear masks inside stores in counties deemed high-risk, but do not require them. Walmart will also display signs to remind customers of the revised CDC guidelines and encourage them to wear masks.
Target will require masks for workers and recommend masks for all customers in areas with significant or high risk of transmission.
“We will follow all local mandates, as we have done throughout the pandemic, and will continue to closely monitor CDC guidance,” Target said.
Costco “strongly recommends that all members and guests wear face masks inside our locations” in areas with high or substantial transmission risk, according to the company’s website. Costco will not require masks.
The Home Depot requires all workers to wear masks in all stores, regardless of vaccination status or the region’s transmission risks.
“We will ask customers to wear masks in our stores and will continue to offer masks to those who do not have them,” The Home Depot said.
Kroger “strongly encourages” all workers and customers to wear a mask in stores and facilities, but does not require them.
“We will continue to uphold all state and local mandates and encourage all Americans to get vaccinated, including our associates,” the company said.
McDonald’s told CNN on Tuesday that customers and restaurant staff in areas with high or substantial transmission will need to wear a mask, regardless of their immunization status. The channel added that the policy change reflects CDC guidelines.
The fast food giant also said masks were already required for staff and customers who are not vaccinated.
Starbucks recommends that customers wear face covers regardless of their immunization status, the company says.
Where required by local law or regulation, Starbucks will require customers to wear face masks in our stores.
Starbucks employees are also required to wear masks during their shift.