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Home Depot, Costco and more no longer require masks for vaccinated customers; McDonald’s drops masks Friday

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Home Depot, Costco and more no longer require masks for vaccinated customers; McDonald’s drops masks Friday

Retailers drop mask mandates after new CDC guidanceA day after the CDC issued new masking guidelines, retailers started announcing changes to mask policies for fully vaccinated customers.USA TODAY, WochitRetailers started announcing changes to face mask policies for fully vaccinated customers a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new masking guidelines. Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco and Publix were among the first to confirm updates to mask requirements, leading the way for mask-free shopping, though customers who live in areas that have state or local mask requirements may still have to wear them – regardless of vaccination status. In some cases, vaccinated store employees can also go to work without a mask.Some retailers, including Apple, have said they are still evaluating the CDC guidance but say they could update policies.McDonald’s and Office Depot confirmed to USA TODAY Thursday that they were updating policies.McDonald’s said restaurant crew and managers will still wear face coverings while working in restaurants, but starting Friday, May 21, “masks will be optional for fully vaccinated customers unless required by local regulation, while social distancing and protective barriers in restaurants will remain in place.”Office Depot’s update is for fully vaccinated customers and employees except where mandates still exist.Save better, spend better:  Money tips and advice delivered right to your inbox. Sign up hereSpring mask wars: As stores update COVID mask policies, are even more conflicts on the horizon?Walgreens and Dollar General updated their policies Wednesday.”Following the latest CDC guidance, beginning today, May 19, Walgreens will no longer require fully vaccinated customers to wear face coverings inside of our stores, unless mandated by state or local regulations,” Walgreens spokesperson Emily Hartwig-Mekstan said in a statement to USA TODAY. “Customers who are not fully vaccinated are asked to continue wearing face coverings, and our team members will continue to wear them while working.”Except in areas with mask mandates, Dollar General said it “will not require fully-vaccinated employees, customers and vendors to wear facial coverings or masks” but added that all others are “encouraged to continue wearing face coverings.”Macy’s said in a statement to USA TODAY Tuesday that “facial coverings are recommended but not required for vaccinated customers in all Macy’s, Inc. store locations, except where state or local mandates require them.”Best Buy updated its policy on face coverings Tuesday and said fully vaccinated customers and employees “are no longer required to wear face coverings in our stores, except where otherwise mandated by state or local order.” Fully vaccinated employees working in customers’ homes still are required to wear masks.Lowe’s said starting Wednesday it “will align with the CDC’s new guidance unless required differently by state or local ordinances.” Home Depot updated its policy Monday.Target announced Monday that it would no longer require vaccinated customers and employees to wear masks, effective immediately, except where required by local or state mandate. CVS and Kohl’s also announced masks would not be required for vaccinated customers starting Monday. Starbucks updated its policy to make masks “optional for vaccinated customers beginning Monday, May 17, unless local regulations require them by law.”So far, businesses have said proof of the vaccine won’t need to be shown and will be on the honor system.Publix’s mask update started Saturday and is for fully vaccinated shoppers and workers.”In accordance with CDC guidelines, individuals who are not fully vaccinated are required to use face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside any Publix store,” the grocery store chain said in a statement Friday.Bloomberg reported Friday night that Apple stores would continue to require masks and follow other COVID-19 procedures as the company evaluates health and safety measures. Apple was one of the first retailers to require masks.The CDC said Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans, for the most part, no longer need to wear masks indoors and don’t have to wear masks outdoors, even in crowded spaces.But privately owned businesses can still require masks; most of the nation’s largest retailers began mask mandates last summer. There are other exceptions for when the CDC recommends masks, such as in health care settings, transportation hubs such as airports and stations, planes and public transportation.Ride-share riders and drivers still must adhere to the mask requirement, and Uber and Lyft told USA TODAY that their mask policies are still in effect.”Uber’s mask requirement remains in place. We continue to ask that riders and drivers wear a mask over their nose and mouth during the entire trip and that riders sit in the back seat,” Andrew Hasbun, Uber’s head of safety communications, said in a statement to USA TODAY. “Drivers can still cancel the trip if a rider isn’t wearing a mask.”Will the honor system work?: Experts say the honor system, paper cards won’t cut it for COVID vaccine verification. ‘Vaccine passports’ are coming.Reviewed recommendations: Looking for a new mask? Here are the best masksConflicts at businesses and viral videos of shoppers’ tirades erupted amid the coronavirus pandemic. The CDC advised stores not to argue with angry anti-mask customers.Lisa LaBruno, senior executive vice president at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in a statement that the CDC guidance “creates ambiguity for retailers because it fails to fully align with state and local orders.”LaBruno urged customers to follow safety protocols, including wearing a mask and social distancing.”Front-line workers deserve this respect. Retailers encourage customers that do not want to wear a mask to shop online or via curbside pickup offerings,” LaBruno said.No masks for vaccinated customersSome exceptions apply, including in states and cities that have local mandates.Masks: Why some will still wear them as country returns to ‘normal’Experts say once people accept the transition back to not wearing masks, it is important to take small steps toward re-integration.USA TODAY, WochitStores still requiring masksDon’t forget your mask: Masks still required for now at Walgreens and more stores, but retailers review new CDC mask guidanceThese lists will be updated as more retailers decide whether or not to update mask policies or share plans.Many of us are allowed to take off our masks: Why some of us don’t want toFlorida theme parks change masking rules: Universal Orlando, Disney World drop mask requirement outdoors, but visitors still must wear them on rides, indoorsContributing: Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY; Jane Musgrave, Palm Beach Post; Emily DeLetter, Cincinnati EnquirerFollow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

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