LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Kroger family of companies, owner of Smith's grocery stores, says it's changing its in-store mask-wearing policy starting this week.
Kroger representatives say starting May 20 fully vaccinated customers and most fully vaccinated associates no longer need to wear a mask in facilities, that include stores, distribution centers, plants, and offices, unless otherwise required by state or local jurisdiction.
The company says since the start of the pandemic its urgent priority has been the safety of its associates and customers. And it has adhered to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marc Watkins as well as listening to its associates and customers to guide policies.
Last week, the CDC issued new guidance for individuals who have been fully vaccinated and company representatives say they have received feedback from and heard thousands of associates regarding the CDC’s announcement.
Now, based on the CDC’s science-based guidance and the input of associates, Kroger says it's updating its mask policy in a way that balances values of safety and respect with the following:
- Starting May 20, fully vaccinated customers and most fully vaccinated associates no longer need to wear a mask in our facilities, including stores, distribution centers, plants, and offices, unless otherwise required by state or local jurisdiction. If there is a state or local mandate, we will adhere to that requirement and its timeline.
- Non-vaccinated associates will be required to wear a mask.
- Associates in our pharmacy and clinic locations will be required to continue wearing a mask due to the CDC’s guidance for healthcare settings.
- We request that non-vaccinated customers continue to wear a mask.
- And we will continue to respect the choice of individuals who prefer to continue to wear a mask.
“Every step of the way, our most urgent priority has been the health and safety of our associates and customers, and we have consistently leveraged expert guidance and associate and customer feedback to guide our decisions. That focus continues today as we look ahead to a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic," Watkins said.
Kroger also said its stores 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.
More company information is also available here.