Walmart to allow vaccinated shoppers, workers to go maskless

Health

FILE – In this Nov. 18, 2020 file photo, a woman, wearing a protective face mask due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, wheels a cart with her purchases out of a Walmart store, in Derry, N.H. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, said Friday, May 14, 2021 that it won’t require vaccinated shoppers or workers to wear a mask in its U.S. stores, unless state or local laws say otherwise. Vaccinated shoppers can go maskless immediately, the company said. Vaccinated workers can stop wearing them on May 18. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, said Friday that it won’t require vaccinated shoppers or workers to wear a mask in its U.S. stores unless state or local laws say otherwise.

Vaccinated shoppers can go maskless immediately, the company said. Vaccinated workers can stop wearing them on Tuesday. As an incentive, Walmart said it is offering workers $75 if they prove they’ve been vaccinated.

Customers won’t be asked but rather held to an “honor system” regarding their vaccination status, Walmart said.

Workers, however, will need to answer “yes” to a vaccination question in a daily health assessment in order to go maskless, the company said in a memo to employees posted on its corporate website.

“Integrity is one of our core values, and we trust that associates will respect that principle when answering,” the memo states. To get the bonus, workers will have to show their original vaccination certificate.

The company based in Bentonville, Arkansas, noted it is offering vaccines at its more than 5,100 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies, and through special events.

Walmart is the nation’s largest employer with roughly 1.5 million workers in the U.S. including those at Sam’s Club, distribution centers and in corporate and managerial jobs.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

Walmart was one of the first retailers to mandate masks last July. Its move to allow vaccinated shoppers and workers to not wear masks could lead other chains to follow suit.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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