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LIST: Trader Joe's, Walmart, Costco drop mask requirements; Fry's, Bashas' to still require them

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Posted at 2:42 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-15 01:15:55-04

PHOENIX — Update: Our story has been updated to include additional information from Bashas and Sprouts.

Trader Joe's and Costco dropped their mask requirement for customers on Friday, following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday that people who are fully vaccinated could return to most daily activities without wearing one.

"We encourage customers to follow the guidance of health officials, including, as appropriate, CDC guidelines that advise customers who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks while shopping," read a note on Trader Joe's COVID-19 website.

"Based on this new guidance regarding vaccine effectiveness, beginning May 14, 2021, we are modifying our policy regarding face coverings in some U.S. Costco locations," Costco's CEO said in a letter posted to its website.

Here are the current mask policies at other major grocery stores in Arizona.

Fry's: Masks are required.

"At this time, The Kroger Family of Companies continues to require everyone in our stores to wear masks," read a statement, in part, from Kroger, which owns Fry's Food Stores.

"As we have throughout the pandemic, we are reviewing current safety practices, the CDC’s latest guidance, and soliciting feedback from associates to guide the next phase of our policy," the statement said.

Bashas', Food City, and AJ's Fine Foods: Masks recommended, but not required unless mandated by state or local order.

On Friday, Bashas' updated its mask policy. Masks will now be recommended at its stores, which include Food City and AJ's Fine Foods. However, some of its stores that are on Tribal lands will continue to require masks to comply with local orders and mandates.

Albertsons and Safeway: Masks are required.

"At this time Albertsons and Safeway are still requiring masks," a spokesperson told ABC15.

Sprouts: Not required when fully vaccinated

"In Arizona, if a customer has been vaccinated, they can shop without masks at Sprouts in accordance with CDC guidance. Sprouts encourages customers who have not been vaccinated to wear masks while shopping. Where state mandates or local ordinances require face coverings, Sprouts stores will follow those ordinances," a statement read.

WinCo: Masks are required.

"With the health and safety of our employee owners, customers and communities top of mind, effective Friday, July 24, 2020, WinCo Foods requires all members of the public to wear masks when shopping at our stores," said WinCo's website.

Costco: Not required when fully vaccinated; still required in health settings, however

"In Costco locations where the state or local jurisdiction does not have a mask mandate, we will allow members and guests who are fully vaccinated to enter Costco without a face mask or face shield. We will not require proof of vaccination, but we ask for members’ responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy. Face coverings will still be required in healthcare settings, including Pharmacy, Optical, Hearing Aid. Costco continues to recommend that all members and guests, especially those who are at higher risk, wear a mask or shield," Costco's President and CEO said in a letter.

Target: Masks are required.

"Target will continue to require all of our coronavirus safety measures in all stores, including masks and social distancing, while we review guidance from the CDC and evaluate the guidance we offer our team and guests," the company said in a statement on its website.

Walmart: Masks not required when fully vaccinated.

"Beginning today, vaccinated customers and members are welcome to shop without a mask, and we will continue to request that non-vaccinated customers and members wear face coverings in our stores and clubs," Walmart said in a memo, posted online, to its associates.

Natural Grocers: Recommended; required when mandated by state or local order

"In many locations, customers are required to wear a face covering when shopping with us to comply with local mandates. In locations where no local mandate is in effect, per CDC recommendations we request that customers wear face coverings. We have complimentary face coverings available for our customers," reads a statement on Natural Grocers' website.

As businesses made the changes, some people around the Valley were apprehensive and others excited to see the changes.

“Very happy, definitely major progress,” says one shopper.

Some people are already taking advantage of that, others plan to still keep it on for now.
"I’m totally okay with taking the mask off, eventually. I think right now it's just uncomfortable to take it off,” Tia Okano, waiting to go maskless.

"There’s not enough people that have been vaccinated and, vaccination is only 95 percent. So, I add all that up and put on my mask,” says Joe Maher, waiting to go maskless.

Many people were out in Old Town Scottsdale. Some employees at Cien Agaves Tacos & Tequila were wearing masks, others maskless. When it comes to the bars, many people started early and celebrated even more than usual.

"I actually didn’t plan to be without a mask but you know, the way that things turned out, ever since I got that notification I’ve been like so impatient and I’m just so excited,” Misael Mendoza, for easing restrictions.

Although the CDC easing guidance on mask restrictions was to be an incentive for those fully vaccinated, some are taking advantage of it regardless.

“I have not been vaccinated; I am not going to be vaccinated. So, I prefer the no mask policy,” Matthew Dzielski, for easing restrictions.

That is another reason why some people might continue to mask up.

The Department of Homeland Security has put out a national bulletin, warning that violent extremists may try to take advantage of the easing of COVID restrictions to plan new attacks. Phoenix police say they are not aware of any specific threats locally but to be aware of your surroundings. Crowded places and large gatherings are among the most likely to be targeted by extremists, according to the agency. If you see any suspicious activity, you are asked to call local law enforcement.