Stores review mask policies after new CDC guidance

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CVS, Walgreens and Macy’s said they are reviewing their requirements for facial coverings following new CDC guidance easing mask wearing for people vaccinated against Covid-19.

The CDC said Thursday that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances such as in healthcare settings, on public transportation, or in areas where governments require masks. The CDC also said people will still need to follow workplace and local businesses’ mask guidance.

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CVS said it is reevaluating its in-store policy, which requires customers and employees to wear masks, based on the latest CDC guidance. “The safety of our employees and customers will continue to guide our decision-making process,” a spokesperson said in an email. Macy’s is also reviewing its mask policy, a spokesperson said.

Walgreens is reviewing the updated CDC guidance, Emily Mekstan, a spokesperson for the company, said.

Representatives for Kroger, Home Depot and Starbucks said they will keep their policies mandating shoppers and employees wear masks.

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Retail and grocery store workers, restaurant staff and other frontline workers have often been thrust into the role of carrying out their employers’ mask rules, sometimes with violent consequences. In the early months of the pandemic, a Family Dollar security officer was shot and killed after telling a customer to wear a mask and in Los Angeles, a Target security guard was left with a broken arm from a fight with two unmasked customers.

Unions representing grocery store workers and retail workers said Thursday that stores should continue requiring customers to wear masks to protect workers.

Marc Perrone, president of United Food and Commercial Workers’ union, said the CDC guidance was “confusing” and “fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks.”

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The guidance “creates ambiguity” for retailers because “it fails to fully align with state and local orders” mandating masks, Lisa LaBruno, senior executive vice president at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in a statement. The group represents top retailers such as Walmart, Target and Home Depot.

“These conflicting positions put retailers and their employees in incredibly difficult situations.”

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