WebMD News Brief

You Still Need a Mask at Kroger, Starbucks, Target

photo of grocery shopping

March 4, 2021 -- Although a few states are beginning to lift statewide mask mandates aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, several major retailers will continue to require customers to wear masks in stores.

Kroger, Starbucks, and Target are among the major chains that will require everyone to put on a mask while shopping.

Kroger, which also owns the supermarket chains Ralphs and Dillons, said in a statement that it will require masks “until all our frontline grocery associates can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The announcements came after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday that he lifted the mask mandate and that all businesses in the state will be able to open at full capacity on March 10. Mississippi and Montana have also lifted mask mandates. But some businesses say they will continue to follow CDC guidelines to protect their workers and customers.

Best Buy, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and Ulta plan to continue their mask requirements, according to Bloomberg News. JCPenney, CVS, and Walgreens, as well as Toyota and General Motors, will maintain their mask policies as well, according to CNN Business.

At the same time, some retailers will drop the requirement for customers, USA Today and Bloomberg News reported. Albertsons and H-E-B will stop requiring patrons to wear facial coverings.

“For associates and vendors, we will continue to follow the CDC guidance and will require face coverings. For customers, we will encourage face coverings to be worn while in the store,” an Albertsons spokesman told USA Today.

As the pandemic continues, mask requirements will likely vary from state to state, city to city, and store to store. The discrepancies could create tension between employees and customers, and workers have already faced verbal threats and violence when trying to enforce safety protocols, Jason Brewer, a spokesman for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, told CNN.

“Going backwards on safety measures will unfairly put retail employees back in the role of enforcing guidelines still recommended by the CDC and other public health advocates,” he said. “It could also jeopardize the safety of pharmacies and grocers that are gearing up as vaccination centers.”

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources

USA Today: “Kroger, Starbucks and Target among retailers that will still require masks in Texas despite end of state mandate.”

Bloomberg News: “Texas Easing Mask Mandate Puts Retailers in a Tough Spot.”

CNN Business: “These Texas chains will still require masks once the state's mandate is lifted.”

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