The country’s largest operator of supermarkets is keeping its mask requirement firmly in place.
The Kroger Family of Companies, which collectively operate thousands of grocery stores across the U.S., including Ralphs and Food 4 Less, has confirmed that its customers are still required to wear masks when visiting any of the company’s locations. The announcement comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its mask guidance for fully vaccinated Americans on Thursday.
“At this time, The Kroger Family of Companies continues to require everyone in our stores to wear masks,” a statement issued by Kroger in response to Thursday’s new guidance read.
“As we have throughout the pandemic, we are reviewing current safety practices, the CDC’s latest guidance, and soliciting feedback from associates to guide the next phase of our policy,” the company added.
The Kroger Family of Companies currently operates supermarkets including Kroger, Harris Teeter, Smith’s Food & Drug, and more than a dozen others throughout the U.S.
Meanwhile, Trader Joe’s announced Friday that they will be following federal guidelines on masking and allow fully vaccinated people to shop maskless. The online post announcing the change was later taken down, however. The store will have to comply with California and Los Angeles County’s rules, which say masks still have to be worn inside businesses while the guidance is being reviewed.
On Thursday, the CDC eased its indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, as well as its recommendations for fully vaccinated people in large outdoor crowds. This guidance, however, only applies unless otherwise prohibited by “federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
The CDC further noted that masks are still required in crowded indoor settings, such as public transportation, or in hospitals and prisons.
Kroger’s decision to maintain its mask requirements, meanwhile, comes at the heels of a similar announcement the company issued in March, following the governors of Texas and Mississippi lifting their states’ mask mandates. At the time, Kroger confirmed that stores would continue to require masks for the “continued safety of our customers and associates.”
Kroger is also currently offering a one-time $100 payment employees who choose to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The company further encourages social distancing in stores, as well as its “low-touch” or “no-touch” pickup options.