October 21, 2021

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Masks at Trader Joe’s, Target and other big stores in California: What are the rules now? – San Francisco Chronicle

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Daily life for people in the Bay Area is changing a lot Tuesday as California lifts most COVID-19 restrictions — especially when it comes to mask requirements while shopping.

Until Tuesday, all Californians were required to wear masks in indoor settings outside the home, and people not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 had to wear them outdoors if social distancing could not be maintained.

Under the state’s new rules, if you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask in almost all indoor public settings. If you’re unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, the old mask rules still apply.

The big exception is for workers: For now masks are still required for all employees at all times in the workplace, indoors and outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. However, that’s likely to change soon: State regulators are expected on Thursday to approve a proposal allowing vaccinated workers to go maskless, and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said he will sign an executive order allowing the new standard to take effect the same day.

Here’s what we know so far about the mask policies shoppers will encounter at some of the major grocery stores and retailers in the Bay Area as of June 15.

Trader Joe’s

The grocery chain was one of the first to announce it would follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued in mid-May and allow fully vaccinated shoppers to shed their masks unless face coverings are required by state and local rules. So, as of Tuesday, fully vaccinated customers can shed their masks, KQED reported.

Whole Foods

As of May 19, in accordance with CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated customers have been allowed to shop at Whole Foods without a mask where state and local rules permit. The company is asking that customers who have not been fully vaccinated continue to wear a mask, according to the Whole Foods website. As of June 1, team members who are fully vaccinated can choose to work without a mask unless local ordinances prohibit them from doing so — which is still the case in California, at least in the short term.


According to a report Monday from ABC7 News, Safeway will not require masks for fully vaccinated shoppers in California unless otherwise required by state and local mandates.


Fully vaccinated customers will not be required to wear face coverings in stores unless required by local ordinances, according to a spokesperson for Target. The same will go for employees, though California’s mask rules for workers will not immediately change.


In a message May 14 to members on its website, Costco said that in locations without state and local mask mandates, shoppers who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a face mask or shield. No proof of vaccination is required. However, face coverings will still be required in “some close contact situations in health care settings,” including the pharmacy, optical and hearing aid sections.


The big-box retailer was in the first wave of major chain stores announcing in mid-May it would follow CDC guidance and allow vaccinated customers to shop indoors without masks if state and local rules allowed.


Customers who are fully vaccinated will not be mandated to wear facial coverings unless required by state or local regulations, a CVS spokesperson said, adding that the company’s store locations will not be checking vaccine cards at the door to determine vaccination status. The spokesperson said that patients receiving treatment from MinuteClinic, Coram or Omnicare will be asked to continue to wear face coverings.


Facial coverings have been optional for fully vaccinated Walgreens customers since May 19 where state and local rules allow, but customers who are not fully vaccinated will continue to be asked to wear facial coverings as per CDC guidelines, said a Walgreens corporate spokesperson.

Rite Aid

Rite Aid said it will not immediately loosen its face-covering policy. “As we pursue the national goal to get 70 percent of U.S. adults at least one shot by the Fourth of July, Rite Aid is doing everything in its power to advance the cause,” Public Relations Director Chris Savarese said in an email. “Beginning July 4, customers and associates who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear face coverings inside Rite Aid stores, unless mandated by state or local regulations.” Customers and employees not fully vaccinated will be asked to continue wearing face coverings, he said.


Beginning June 15, Starbucks in California locations will make facial coverings optional for fully vaccinated customers. Wearing masks inside Starbucks locations has been optional for fully vaccinated people since May 17 in areas where local law does not mandate face coverings.

Additionally, the company says it will continue to clean high-touch surface areas more frequently, and plexiglass shields may remain in place to reduce contact between employees and customers.

Home Depot

Customers who are fully vaccinated will not be required to wear masks or face coverings in stores unless required by local law. Those who are not fully vaccinated will be encouraged to wear masks.

Pandemic safety measures such as social distancing, frequent sanitation and cleaning will continue in all stores.

Annie Vainshtein and Vanessa Arredondo are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: avainshtein@sfchronicle.com vanessa.arredondo@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @annievain @v_anana

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