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Retailers ask state, local leaders for clarity on mask orders

Enforcing mask requirements for unvaccinated individuals should not fall to retail employees

The nation’s two leading retail organizations are asking state governors and mayors to consider the “practicality” of state and local orders that cite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance giving fully vaccinated individuals approval to resume indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask.

Since the updated CDC guidance, Walmart and an increasing number of other retailers have said that fully vaccinated people may shop in their stores without masks (except in locations where mandated by local or state ordinances). But that all others must wear masks. However, Walmart said it will continue to request that non-vaccinated customers (and employees) wear face coverings in its stores and clubs

In a letter sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo, chairman of the National Governors Association and Mayor Greg Fischer, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the National Retail Federation stressed that while the new CDC guidance is encouraging news in the fight against COVID-19, state and local orders are substantially complicating the situation for retailers, their employees, and customers. 

Part of the letter is below:

“Retail employees should not be asked to serve as de facto law enforcement related to masks for vaccinated versus non-vaccinated customers. As state and local officials consider the evolving federal guidance on masks, we urge thoughtful consideration related to the practicality of state and local orders.”

“Our recommendation is to permit state and local orders to track CDC guidance closely, allowing retailers to make national policy decisions that reflect the most current scientific advice. If localities choose to keep mask requirements in place for unvaccinated Americans, administration of these requirements must not be placed on retail employees.”

Here is the full letter.

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