CVS, Walmart among retailers dropping mask requirement

a woman standing in front of a store

Several of the nation’s largest retailers have updated their mask requirements in light of new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control saying that fully vaccinated Americans, for the most part, no longer need to wear masks indoors.

CVS Pharmacy said that effective today customers who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear face coverings inside of its stores, unless it is mandated by state or local regulations. Customers who are not fully vaccinated are asked to continue wearing face coverings, and employees are required to do so while at work. Health, safety and science will continue to drive our decision-making process, CVS said.

Walmart announced that customers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can shop without a mask in its namesake and Sam’s Club stores — except at locations where local or state ordinances mandate them.  In a memo on Friday from John Furner, Walmart U.S. CEO; Kath McLay, Sam’s Club CEO; and Dr. Cheryl Pegus, Walmart’s executive VP of health and wellness, the company said the change was effective immediately.

In addition, fully-vaccinated Walmart employees will no longer be required to wear a mask at work, starting on May 18 (also unless required by ordinances).  The policy applies to the chain's stores, clubs, distribution centers, fulfillment centers and offices.   

Walmart said it will continue to request that non-vaccinated customers and members wear face coverings in its stores and clubs.  The company is updating its store signage to reflect the revised policy.

Hy-Vee is yet another retailer that no longer requires fully vaccinated customers and employees to wear face coverings in its stores, except where it’s required by local ordinances. Face coverings, however, continue to be strongly recommended for Hy-Vee customers who are not fully vaccinated and are still required by the company for employees who are not fully vaccinated.

Other retailers relaxing their mask requirements in the wake of the updated CDC guidance include Starbucks, which said that “facial coverings will be optional for vaccinated customers” as of May 17, Target, Trader Joe’s, Costco Wholesale and Publix. Similar to Walmart, and CVS, the three companies noted that masks would still be required at locations where local or state regulations mandate them.

Along with its new mask policy, Walmart announced it will provide a $75 bonus to its U.S. field employees for getting fully vaccinated. It will be given to those who have already been fully vaccinated and those who do so in the future. The bonus applies to all current, hourly and salaried field-based Walmart, Sam's Club and supply chain associates below the level of facility manager.

This story originally appeared on Chain Store Age