A decision that could influence how other businesses respond to the latest government guidance was taken by Walmart when they said that fully vaccinated customers and staff can now leave their masks at home.
The same day the retailer reports first-quarter results, on the same day the nation’s biggest private employer said that fully vaccinated staff need not wear a mask at work starting May 18. This rule applies to all of its Sam’s Club locations and US Walmart, distribution offices, and centers.
In a memo to employees on Friday, Walmart executives said that the customers who have been inoculated can also shop without face coverings as of Friday, although masks could still be required by some local ordinances.
POLICY OF WALMART
A significant step is marked by Walmart with this step towards returning to normalcy in American life and it could set an example for the industry. Largely, retailers have required masks for employees and shoppers over the past year which resulted in occasional clashes with uncooperative customers. A confusing environment for shoppers and employees alike has been created by Target Corp., Apple Inc., and other retailers have not yet relaxed their mask requirements.
On Friday, Costco Wholesale Corp and Trader Joe have also said that they were eliminating mask requirements for shoppers, just like Walmart did. A proof will also not be required by the retailers that customers have been inoculated. They are rather hoping that customers will be responsible and will cooperate while also remembering to don face coverings in cities and towns that still have mask mandates in place.
The US retail stores of Walmart have been informed by Apple that mask mandates and other COVID-19 related procedures remain in place for now though the iPhone maker says it continues to evaluate safety and health measures. The wearing of masks is required by all of the retail stores of Apple throughout the pandemic and there are some locations that have been operating on a limited basis, that is, without appointment only.
Their mask policies are being reviewed by a number of companies after Thursday’s CDC announcement. For now, Home Depot Inc. and Target have decided not to adjust their mask requirements. The mask policy of Rite Aid Corp is still in place pending local and state rules.
A spokeswoman of Trader Joe’s said that even with the easing of its policy, it will still require its employees to wear masks. The company said in a statement that customers at Costco will still have to wear face coverings in its optical and pharmacy departments.
On Thursday, the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that fully vaccinated Americans can largely do away with social distancing and wearing masks which is a decision that took many companies by surprise.
$75 will be given to every employee by Walmart that gets vaccinated, following companies like German grocer Lidl, Kroger Co., and Instacart Inc. that have given cash for proof of shots. Paid time off has been given by other businesses to get vaccinated.
In a statement signed by corporate leadership, Walmart said that they were positive developments. They can do it. They have gone through a lot the past year and now they needed to do their part to finish it.
The company also said that they were also reviewing whether masks may still be required for certain job codes for sanitation and health purposes and additional guidance will be shared by them soon.
In the United States, Walmart is the largest private employer and has a staff of about 1.5 million people in the country and they saw soaring sales throughout 2020 despite the business disruptions of the pandemic.