Service With a Smile: Starbucks, Major Grocery Store Chains Lift Mask Requirements For Fully Vaccinated Customers

trader joe's face masks

Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images.

You can leave the mask at home next time you’re out of milk — as long as you’re fully vaccinated. A number of major retail grocery chains announced in recent days that they were relaxing their mask requirements, following the CDC’s lead with its new guidelines.

A number of state and local governments passed various types of mask mandates during the pandemic, and a number of companies imposed their own rules separate from the local laws. The updated CDC guidelines say that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks, indoors or outdoors, except for specific circumstances like airline travel.

“Fully vaccinated” is defined as at least two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Retailers dropping the mask requirements include Walmart, Costco, Starbucks, Publix, and Trader Joe’s. The Trader Joe’s policy will be to still require employees to wear masks, but vaccinated customers will be able to forgo them, a company spokesperson told The New York Times. All of the companies’ policies will yield to local laws if they still require masks.

For now, Target and CVS are keeping their masks requirements in place while the reevaluate the new CDC guidelines.

The stores will rely on the honor system to enforce this new policy. Federal laws protect customers’ private health information, and any discussion about “vaccine passports” has hit major opposition. The vaccine cards that the CDC issues to everyone as they get their vaccine shots are simple black print on white paper, and easily forged.

Employees at these stores have spent too much time in the past year being forced to play “mask police” and enforce rules that were imposed either by their employer or local government, and people have been hurt, even killed, as interactions between maskless customers and retail employees have turned violent.

Friendly reminder: yelling at a cashier won’t make the pandemic end any faster. Be kind to each other.

UPDATE 8:10 pm: According to CNN, Sam’s Club is no longer requiring masks, and Walgreen’s, Macy’s, and Home Depot are keeping their mask rules in place for now — all subject to local laws, of course.

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