Masks still required for now at Target, Walmart, CVS and more, but retailers review new CDC mask guidance

Don’t ditch your mask just yet.

Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new masking guidelines saying fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks, face coverings will still be required when shopping at the nation’s major retailers and entering national chain restaurants like Starbucks.

At least for now.

But several companies including Target, Walmart, CVS and Kroger say they will reevaluate their mask policies based on the CDC guidance.

“Target will continue to require all of our coronavirus safety measures in all stores, including masks and social distancing, while we review updated guidance from the CDC and re-evaluate the guidance we offer our team and guests,” Target spokesperson Brian Harper-Tibaldo said in a statement to USA TODAY.

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The CDC said Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans, for the most part, no longer need to wear masks indoors and don’t have to wear masks outdoors, even in crowded spaces.

But privately-owned businesses can still require masks, which most of the nation’s largest retailers started mandating last summer. There are other exceptions for when the CDC recommends masks such as in health care settings, transportation hubs such as airports and stations, and public transportation.

“As a destination for COVID vaccine and testing we have decided to keep our current face covering policy in place for the time being,” Walgreens spokesperson Emily Hartwig-Mekstan said in a statement to USA TODAY. “The safety of our team members and customers is our top priority and will continue to guide our decision process.”

Kroger said in a statement to the Cincinnati Enquirer, part of the USA TODAY Network, that its family of stores will continue to require everyone to wear masks at this time. But the company did say it is reviewing current safety practices, the CDC’s latest guidance, and soliciting feedback from associates to guide the next phase of its policy.

Walmart told The Columbus Dispatch, also part of the USA TODAY Network, that it was reevaluating its mask position based on the new information.

“We are constantly evaluating our COVID-related health and safety protocols, including state executive orders and other mandate changes,” Walmart said in a statement. “We will continue to do so, keeping CDC guidance and local COVID statistics in mind.”

Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ union, called the CDC’s guidance confusing and said in a statement 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.”

Perrone said store workers “are still forced to play mask police for shoppers who are unvaccinated and refuse to follow local COVID safety measures,” and asked if they are now supposed to become the “vaccination police.”

“Vaccinations are helping us take control of this pandemic, but we must not let our guard down,” Perrone said. “As one of America’s largest unions for essential workers, UFCW is calling on the CDC and our nation’s leaders to clarify how this new policy will be implemented, how essential workers will be protected, and how these workers will protect the communities they serve.”

This story will be updated.

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Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY; Brook Endale, Cincinnati Enquirer; Jim Weiker and Sarah Donaldson, The Columbus Dispatch

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

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