One of the nation's largest grocery retailers is joining with its competitors in loosening requirements that employees and customers wear face coverings.
Beginning Thursday, May 20, Kroger says fully vaccinated customers and most fully vaccinated employees may stop wearing face coverings unless required by state or local authorities.
The Cincinnati-based company says the change affects all of its facilities from grocery stores to distribution centers and offices.
"Last week, the CDC issued new guidance for individuals who have been fully vaccinated," the company says in a statement. "We have received feedback from and heard the valued opinions of thousands of associates regarding the CDC's announcement. Based on the CDC's science-based guidance and the input of our associates, we are updating our mask policy in a way that balances our values of safety and respect."
Non-vaccinated employees must continue masking and non-vaccinated customers are asked to do the same. Pharmacy and clinic employees must still follow the CDC's guidance for health care workers, which includes masking.
"We will continue to implement enhanced cleaning and physical distancing across all facilities as well as offer associates a $100 one-time payment for receiving the recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine," the company says.
The change comes as major retailers like Target, Walmart and Costco have also dropped their mask rules for fully vaccinated people.
Kroger operates more than 2,700 stores in 35 states under such banners as Fred Meyer, Dillions and Harris Teeter.