Several major retailers in the United States announced plans to lift their mask requirements for vaccinated customers in line with altered guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC last week announced that people are no longer required to wear face coverings in public -- except on transit, in health care facilities and other crowded areas or where local mandates require them -- two weeks after they have completed their vaccine sequence.
Walmart announced Friday that vaccinated customers and employees will no longer be required to wear masks, adding that the company is "encouraging all associates to get vaccinated and help end this pandemic."
Costco and grocery chain Publix also both announced that they will no longer require maks for fully vaccinated customers and employees and Starbucks said it will lift its mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers on Monday.
Other retailers such as CVS, Walgreens and Macy's said they would review their mask policies in light of the CDC guidance.
Many of the retailers who lifted their mask requirements said they would not require proof of vaccination for customers who enter without a mask and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a Friday press conference that the Biden administration is not considering federal mandates for so-called "vaccine passports" that would require proof of vaccination to enter certain establishments.
The CDC guidance, however, prompted backlash from unions representing food and healthcare workers.
The United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents 1.3 million food and retail workers, expressed concern that the policy places an increased burden on workers to gauge customer compliance.
"While we all share the desire to return to a mask-free normal, today's CDC guidance is confusing and fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks," UFCW President Marc Perrone said in a statement Thursday.
National Nurses United, the nation's largest registered nurses union, called for the CDC to reverse the guidance, saying it "is not based on science" and would jeopardize the health of frontline workers and the general public, particularly people of color.
"This is a huge blow to our efforts at confronting this virus and the pandemic," said Bonnie Castillo, a registered nurse and executive director of the union.
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