Workers concerned about retailers ditching masks on vaccine honor system

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As Walmart Inc. and a handful of major retailers dropped mask requirements in their stores, some front-line workers are pushing back on concerns that the new policy will bring them greater health and safety risks.

The world’s largest retailer, along with Costco Wholesale Corp. and Trader Joe’s, were among the first companies to ease their mask policy for vaccinated shoppers following a recommendation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Food and grocery workers are concerned that the rule change, which largely relies on a vaccination honor system, brings them greater health and safety risk.

“Essential workers are still forced to play mask police for shoppers who are unvaccinated and refuse to follow local covid safety measures,” said Marc Perrone, president of United Food and Commercial Workers, a major retail and grocery union. “Are they now supposed to become the vaccination police?”

Perrone called on state governors Sunday to maintain mask mandates in place, following the examples of New Jersey and Hawaii, saying the pandemic is far from over. Governors in many states moved quickly to drop mask mandates for vaccinated people. Still, even with the CDC recommendation, local governments are able to impose tighter restrictions.

“Your anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers are not necessarily going to be honest with people about whether they’ve been vaccinated or not,” Nancy Baxter, head of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, said on Bloomberg Television, who said the CDC’s move may lead to a surge in infections. “You have this honor system that I think is going to break down.”

Beyond retail, other venues are easing their mask requirements without getting rid of face coverings completely. Walt Disney World Resort made masks optional in common outdoor areas but still require them indoors, on all attractions, theaters and transportation.

Walt Disney Co.’s chief executive Bob Chapek said on Bloomberg Television last week that he expects a mask-loosening policy for both customers and workers as its parks ramp up in the crucial summer months. “We think that’s in the future for us—in the near future, in fact,” he said.

The biggest Las Vegas casino operators including Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Las Vegas Sands Corp., also told vaccinated guests they can stop wearing masks, following new guidance from state and federal regulators.

Still, others including Target Corp. and Ikea are holding back, for now.

“Changing our mask policy requires careful consideration and planning,” Ikea said on its website after the CDC announcement, adding that it’s not dropping its mask requirement just yet.

These are the companies that have dropped mask requirements:

– Walmart Inc.

– Costco Wholesale Corp.

– Trader Joe’s

– Starbucks

– Publix

Companies that are evaluating the situation or still require masks:

– Target Corp.

– Apple Inc.

– Home Depot Inc.

– Kroger Co.

– Ikea

– Macy’s Inc.

– Levi Strauss & Co.

– Gap Inc.

– TJX Cos.

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7 thoughts on “Workers concerned about retailers ditching masks on vaccine honor system

  1. Boy, i sure hope this isn’t a mistake; we are so close to perhaps having this over. As the article points out, the people who think the whole pandemic is a hoax or that they shouldn’t be forced to wear masks or who are against the vaccine, are more than a little unlikely to follow the vaccination honor system

  2. Time to grow up again kids! If you think masks are still relevant, then wear the dang things and keep your mouth shut. The vaccinated folks got vac’d so we could quit wearing the masks, as was the point to begin with. Be thankful the vaccine is available and works, and quit complaining, otherwise start listening to your mothers again!

  3. I don’t understand. At this point, anybody worried about Covid should have the vaccine and can keep wearing masks. If you are really worried, wear an N-95 mask. Why are we still mandating people to wear masks? It doesn’t make sense to me.

    If the Union is really worried about its members, maybe they should pay for vaccines and masks instead of lobbyists.

    At this point, people should make their own decisions based off of their understanding of the risks.