Shoppers wear protective masks inside a Target Corp. store in New York, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. Target is scheduled to release earnings figures on August 19.
Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The CDC said Thursday that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask or stay 6 feet apart from others in most cases, whether indoors or outdoors. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they receive the second dose of the Pfizer–BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or the single dose of Johnson & Johnson.
The sudden change by the federal agency prompted confusion and some criticism. Over the weekend, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci made rounds on news programs to explain and defend the policy change.
Some feel the new guidance will encourage more people to get inoculated, but others are concerned the policy relies too heavily on people being honest about their vaccination status. The possibility that unvaccinated people may go maskless is a concern for those who are not yet vaccinated or have children under 12 years of age who cannot yet receive the vaccine.
As of Saturday, roughly 47% of the U.S. population have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the CDC. About 37% are fully vaccinated, according to the agency.
All of the retailers said they would follow local mandates, which are also changing. New York state said Monday it will allow people to skip masks if they are fully vaccinated, starting Wednesday. Masks will still be required in some settings, such as public transit and health-care facilities, according to federal guidelines. California health officials said Monday that they’re sticking to the plan to keep the mask mandate until June 15, which was set before the CDC released its updated guidance.
Retailers that changed their mask policies did not announce plans to check customers’ vaccination status. They asked those who are not vaccinated to continue wearing masks in their stores. The companies have taken different approaches with their workforces.
In a statement, CVS said it would still require its employees to wear masks while at work. Chipotle restaurant workers will still be required to wear masks, according to Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Laurie Schalow. Target said in a statement that its employees who are fully vaccinated will not have to wear masks — but said it would keep other safety measures, such as extra cleaning and social distancing in its stores.
Starbucks’ new mask policy does not appear to apply to baristas. Since February, the coffee chain has required its restaurant workers at company operated locations in the U.S. and Canada to wear multi-ply facial coverings, or double mask. Starbucks has required facial coverings inside its cafes for customers since July 15.