Amid concerns over the rise in the number of cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19, several retail chains are reverting back to mask-wearing recommendations. They are making it mandatory for all employees and staff to wear masks inside stores regardless of their vaccination status. These companies are also strongly encouraging shoppers to wear masks in stores. However, it has not been mandatory for them. Walmart and other retail chain operators said they adding back signage near the entrances to remind customers that wearing masks is important to their own safety. “At a time when cases of Delta variant of Covid-19 are on the rise and considering the updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, we are encouraging each and everyone to wear a mask when inside our stores and warehouses clubs. Even those who have received Covid-19 jabs are requested to follow this. We will continue to encourage all citizens of America to get vaccinated, including our associates. Everyone needs to abide by all local and state mandates,” a spokesperson of Kroger said. Walmart and Kroger till now had made it mandatory to wear masks for all employees and staff who are not vaccinated.
The development comes as CDC has reversed its recommendations regarding wearing masks. The health agency said that even fully vaccinated people must wear masks. Especially when they are in the areas of substantial or high transmission. This covers almost two-thirds of the United States. The CDC said that virus is spreading fast in these areas. The decision is apparently a reversal of the previous recommendation of the health agency in which it said that fully vaccinated people could go without masks. Following which several retails giants stopped asking vaccinated customers as well as employees to wear masks. But the Delta variant has again resulted in the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases, forcing the CDC to reevaluate the situation. The health agency has said that the new variant is a cause of concern as it is as contagious as chickenpox and even has a longer transmission window. The CDC said that it is more dangerous than previous variants and can make people sicker, even those who are fully vaccinated. Publix Super Markets operate over 1,100 stores across the country. The retail company too has changed its rules and now requires all workers to wear marks inside all locations. Following this, other retail businesses too are reviewing the new guidelines. They are mulling on issuing updated rules in the coming days.
As vaccination is the only possible solution to this problem, every company is encouraging it, employees, to get vaccinated as soon as possible. To do so, Walmart said that it has decided to double the incentive given to workers for the inoculation against Covid-19. Earlier, the company was giving USD 75 incentives to people for getting vaccinated. Not the amount has been increased to USD 150. The company said that those who have already received the incentive will receive another USD 75 in their paycheck this month. Walmart, the country’s largest employer, also said that it is working on a new process for verification of vaccination status in America. It will share more details about the plan in the near future. Walmart is the largest retailer in the country and has around 4,700 stores. The big-box retailer changed its policy just a day after tech giant Apple made it mandatory for all staff as well as customers to wear masks in many of its shops. So far 345.6 million people have received Covid-19 vaccines in the country. Biden administration has been working on increasing the pace of vaccination as it has slowed in the recent past.