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Target joins Starbucks, others in not requiring mask for fully vaccinated customers unless required

A person wearing a protective mask enters a Starbucks coffee shop in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Targetand Starbucks joined a growing list of retailers and restaurants that will ease mask requirements Monday for fully vaccinated customers unless facial coverings are required by local or state law.

Companies began changing their policies for wearing masks inside stores and cafes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that fully vaccinated people don’t have to cover their faces indoors anymore.

Walmart, Costco, Trader Joe’s and Publix were among the first to allow mask-free shopping. But, Home Depot, Gap and Ulta Beauty are among the retailers that said they would continue to monitor developments, but maintain their pandemic precautions.

In a statement, Target said employees will not have to wear masks if they are fully vaccinated, too. It said it will continue other safety measures, such as extra cleaning and social distancing in its stores.

In its new guidance on Thursday, the CDC said fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask or stay 6 feet apart from others in most cases, whether indoors or outdoors. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they receive the second dose of the PfizerBioNTech or Moderna vaccines or the single dose of Johnson & Johnson.

The sudden change by the federal agency prompted confusion and some criticism. Over the weekend, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci made rounds on news programs to explain and defend the policy change.

Some feel the new guidance will encourage more people to be inoculated, but others are concerned that the policy relies too heavily on people being honest about their vaccination status. The possiblity that unvaccinated people may go maskless is a concern for those who are not yet vaccinated, including parents of children under 12 years of age who cannot yet receive the vaccine.

The update to Starbucks’ mask policy does not appear to impact baristas’ own mask wearing. Since February, the coffee chain has required its restaurant workers at company-operated locations in the United States and Canada to wear multi-ply facial coverings, or double mask. Starbucks has required facial coverings inside its cafes for customers since July 15.

Shares of Starbucks have risen nearly 4% so far this year, giving the company a market value of $131 billion. The business has been battered by the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, but U.S. same-store sales returned to pre-pandemic levels during its fiscal second quarter.

Target shares are up nearly 20% since the start of the year. It has a market value of $105 billion.

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