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Kroger to lift mask requirements for those fully vaccinated on Thursday

All Kroger employees must now wear face masks starting Sunday
Posted at 2:31 PM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 22:53:54-04

INDIANAPOLIS — If you're fully vaccinated, you'll no longer need to wear a face mask inside some Kroger grocery stores and facilities starting Thursday.

The policy update applies to all stores and facilities, but you will still need to wear a face mask if it's required under state or local mandates or orders. Associates working in pharmacies and clinics will still need to wear a face mask, according to the guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you're not fully vaccinated, which is two weeks after you have received all COVID-19 vaccination shots, you will still need to wear a face mask while inside Kroger stores and facilities.

In a statement Wednesday, Kroger said the updated policy comes after the CDC's updated mask guidance for fully vaccinated people last week.

Kroger will continue its "enhanced cleaning and physical distancing" in all facilities, according to the statement.

The company is still offering all associates a $100 one-time payment for those who get fully vaccinated.

Customers can make an appointment to get vaccinated at a Kroger location, but many of its pharmacies are accepting walk-in appointments.

To make a vaccination appointment at another site in Indiana, visit ourshot.in.gov or call 211. Currently, anyone 12 and older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination in Indiana. Those under the age of 18 are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.

“As the union for essential food and retail workers on the frontlines across the country, UFCW is strongly urging retailers not to add to the confusion and to assure customers that the vast majority of people in their stores will still be masked," Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, said. "Keeping retail mask rules in place for most people will help us protect each other and our families. Before the new CDC mask guidance, we knew that unmasked shoppers were ignoring COVID safety measures and likely unvaccinated, so we knew to keep our distance if we were concerned. Now it is virtually impossible to tell who is and is not vaccinated. With more than 200 million Americans still not fully vaccinated, now is not the time to let our guard down. Given the uncertainty we face after the new mask guidance, it’s more urgent than ever for the Department of Labor to issue an OSHA emergency temporary standard that provides clear-cut COVID workplace safety rules that are easy for businesses to follow to keep workers and shoppers safe."

Kroger says associates will not be asked to verify or ask unmasked customers if they have been vaccinated because they "trust our customers to follow the CDC's guidelines."