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An array of stores are joining the growing list of establishments that will no longer require masks for fully vaccinated shoppers.
On Friday, Walmart announced in a letter that "vaccinated customers and members are welcome to shop without a mask." Unvaccinated shoppers, however, are asked to keep wearing masks in stores.
Similarly, employees who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to work without masks as of May 18, the letter added, also noting that "masks will also continue to be required by some city and state ordinances, and we will follow those requirements."
Al Bello/Getty Masked shoppers at Walmart
At Costco locations across the nation, customers who have been vaccinated can shop without masks where there are no state or local mask mandates. However, customers will still have to wear face coverings in Costco's pharmacy and other healthcare settings.
"We will allow members and guests who are fully vaccinated to enter Costco without a face mask or face shield," the company said in a release on their website. "We will not require proof of vaccination, but we ask for members' responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy."
Similarly, Publix said that fully vaccinated workers and customers will not be required to wear face coverings at its locations starting on Saturday.
"As a result of the recently updated U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, Publix will no longer require fully vaccinated associates or customers to wear face coverings, unless required by a state or local order or ordinance, beginning May 15," the statement read.
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Meanwhile, Starbucks will make face coverings optional for vaccinated customers starting on Monday, unless they are required by local regulations. Employees will continue to be required to wear face coverings, the coffee chain said.
"As we continue to ensure the health and well-being of our partners and customers, our restrooms generally remain temporarily closed to the public in stores where the café or café seating is unavailable," Starbucks added.
Trader Joe's previously announced a similar response when the grocery store chain made changes to its COVID-19 resources page announcing they would not be requiring masks in stores, but would still be practicing social distancing and daily employee wellness checks.
"We encourage customers to follow the guidance of health officials, including, as appropriate, CDC guidelines that advise customers who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks while shopping," the company's page read.
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The announcements from the various companies comes shortly after the CDC released new federal guidelines surrounding face coverings, stating that Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can now be indoors or outdoors without masks or social distancing in most cases.
"The science is clear: If you are fully vaccinated, you are protected, and you can start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic," the CDC said in a statement on Thursday about those who are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna's vaccine, or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.
However, the government agency is still leaving the final decision on mask mandates to local and state governments, which can continue to require face coverings for fully vaccinated individuals. Private businesses, such as many grocery store chains and restaurants, can also continue to require masks on their premises.
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