Stores drop masks for fully vaccinated after CDC says no masks indoors


    A day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new masking guidelines, retailers started announcing changes to mask policies for fully vaccinated customers. Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, and Publix were the first to confirm updates to mask requirements, leading the way for mask-free shopping except where required by state or local mandate. In some cases, vaccinated store employees can also go to work without a mask.

    Many retailers, including Apple, Target, CVS, and Walgreens, say they are still evaluating the CDC guidance but could update policies. Publix’s mask update starts Saturday and is for both fully vaccinated shoppers and workers.

    Save better, spend better:  Money tips and advice delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here

    Don’t forget your mask: Masks are still required for now at Target, Walgreens, CVS, and more, but retailers review new CDC mask guidance. “By CDC guidelines, individuals who are not fully vaccinated are required to use face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside any Publix store,” the grocery store chain said in a statement Friday.


    Bloomberg reported Friday night that Apple stores will continue to require masks and follow other COVID-19 procedures as the company continues to evaluate health and safety measures. Apple was one of the first retailers to mandate masks. 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 when the CDC recommends masks, such as in health care settings, transportation hubs such as airports and stations, planes, and public transportation. Conflicts at businesses and viral videos of shoppers’ tirades erupted amid the coronavirus pandemic. The CDC advised stores not to argue with angry anti-mask customers.

    Many of us are allowed to take off our masks: Why some of us don’t want to

    Reviewed recommendations: Looking for a new mask? Here are the best masks

    Lisa LaBruno, senior executive vice president at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in a statement the CDC guidance “creates ambiguity for retailers because it fails to fully align with state and local orders.”

    LaBruno urged customers to follow safety protocols, including wearing a mask and social distancing. “Frontline workers deserve this respect. Retailers encourage customers that do not want to wear a mask to shop online or via curbside pickup offerings,” LaBruno said.

    No masks for vaccinated shoppers

    Some exceptions apply, including in states and cities that have local mandates.

    Stores still require masks, for now.

    These lists will be updated as more retailers decide whether or not to update mask policies or share plans.

    Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY; Jane Musgrave, Palm Beach Post; Emily DeLetter, Cincinnati Enquirer

    Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here