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Target, Home Depot, other retailers update mask guidelines

A man wearing a protective mask and rubber gloves searches for an ingredient at Target during the COVID 19 pandemic. Photo: Nicole Glass Photography /

More retailers are revising their mask requirements in the wake of the updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The CDC announced last week that, in light of the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant, it now recommends that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks in public, indoor spaces in areas where there is substantial or high transmission of the coronavirus.

Target said that, effective Aug. 3, it will require face coverings for its team members and “strongly recommend” the same for all shoppers in areas with substantial or high risk of transmission, as defined by the CDC.  Target, similar to most retailers, had dropped its mask mandate se

“We’ll follow all local mandates, as we have throughout the pandemic, and continue to monitor guidance from the CDC closely,” Target stated. “We will also maintain all of our health and safety protocols that include increased cleaning measures and social distancing.”

Target’s new mask requirement follows a similar revision from Walmart. The retail giant will require Walmart and Sam’s Club workers in U.S. counties deemed at high risk of COVID-19 transmission to wear a mask — regardless of their vaccination status.

In a similar move, The Home Depot will require all employees, contractors and vendors to wear a mask while indoors at all U.S. Home Depot stores, distribution centers, office locations and customers’ homes or businesses, regardless of vaccination status. The home improvement retailer said it will also ask its customers to wear masks while in its stores and continue to offer masks to those who don’t have one.

The Kroger Co. is “strongly encouraging” all employees and customers, regardless of vaccination status, to return to wearing masks while inside stores. 

“We will continue to abide by all state and local mandates and encourage all Americans to get vaccinated, including our associates,” the company stated.

In this new round of masking guidelines, only one major retailer has made masks mandatory for its customers as well as its employees: Apple.

[Read more: Bloomberg: Apple stores to require customers to mask up again

In announcing its updated masking guidelines, Target added that it will continue to encourage its employees and shoppers to get the COVID-19 vaccine by offering vaccine appointments at nearly all CVS at Target locations. The retailer is also providing paid time and free Lyft rides to team members when they get their vaccines.

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