Walmart drops mask mandate for customers, employees (but not in Dane Co.)

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 5:09 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Walmart will no longer require customers and employees to wear face masks in its stores – provided they are fully vaccinated.

The company announced the new policy in a statement late Friday afternoon, a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance to indicate those who have gone two weeks since completing their vaccine series – and are thus considered “fully vaccinated” – can forgo masks in most cases.

The mask-less rule, however, will only apply in locations where there is no local or state mask mandate in place. For example, fully vaccinated customers at Walmart stores in Rock Co., where the requirement was lifted early Friday afternoon, can ditch their mask, while all shoppers in Dane Co. will still need to don a face covering for now. Health officials there have not lifted its mask requirement, but say they plan to release an update on Tuesday.

Tuesday is also when fully vaccinated Walmart employees can start leaving their masks at home. They have the option to wear one if they feel more comfortable doing so and unvaccinated workers will still need one.

In Friday’s announcement, the company also rolled out a new initiative to encourage its employees to get vaccinated. Walmart says its U.S. field associates who have already been vaccinated or are getting one will be eligible for a $75 bonus “as a thank you for getting vaccinated.”

Walmart’s announcement comes on the heels of Trader Joe’s pulling its mask rules at stores in locations not under a mask mandate. Many other stores however have left their requirements in place while they review the CDC order.

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