Major retailers requiring mask for employees, some customers: What we know

A Walmart shopper exits the store wearing a mask Thursday July 29, 2021 The CDC recommended on Tuesday that in areas with high community COVID-19 transmission rates, fully vaccinated individuals should don a face mask. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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A Walmart shopper exits the store wearing a mask Thursday July 29, 2021 The CDC recommended on Tuesday that in areas with high community COVID-19 transmission rates, fully vaccinated individuals should don a face mask. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Major retailers and restaurant chains such as Kroger, Walmart and McDonald’s said they would require workers to wear masks in many of their stores, restaurants and offices regardless of vaccination status.

Some retailers are recommending people shopping at their stores wear masks and McDonald’s confirmed Tuesday that crew and customers will be required to wear masks in restaurants in areas with high or substantial transmission, regardless of vaccination status.

Masks are always required for those who are not vaccinated.

The announcements come following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s change in recommendations following the rise of the COVID-19 delta variant that has caused coronavirus cases to spike in Ohio and across the country.

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The CDC defines substantial COVID transmission as 50-99.99 cases per 100,000 people over seven days and high transmission are more than 100 cases per 100,000.

From July 26 to Aug. 1, four counties in the Dayton region were listed as high transmission: Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Shelby, according to the CDC. Butler, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Logan, Preble and Warren counties were considered substantial.

Kroger is strongly encouraging all people inside its stores to wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status. This is a shift from the company’s previous guidance which only asked customers who were unvaccinated to wear a mask.

“Based on the CDC’s science-based guidance and the input of our associates, we are updating our mask policy in a way that balances our values of safety and respect,” Kroger said in a statement. “We strongly encourage all individuals, including those who are vaccinated, to wear a mask when in our stores and facilities.”

Kroger already requires unvaccinated employees to wear masks and the company said it will continue to offer its employees a $100 one-time payment for getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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Both Target and Home Depot said they would require all employees, contractors and vendors to wear masks while indoors at their stores and other locations. Home Depot also extended that requirement to all contractors and vendors and required wearing masks while in customer homes.

Walmart and Sam’s Club also said they would require associates to wear masks inside their facilities, but only in counties where there is substantial or high coronavirus transmission, as determined by the CDC, or where there are state or local mask mandates.

This information is updated weekly, so Walmart and Sam’s Club said they would update local management on mask requirements weekly.

In addition, Walmart and Sam’s Club announced it would require employees that work in multiple facilities, as well as campus office associates to be vaccinated by Oct. 4, unless they have a medical or religious exception.

On Monday, the city of Dayton announced it is requiring employees and visitors to wear masks while inside its public facilities, and the city also is exploring requiring employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

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“Over the last two weeks we have received reports of more than a dozen of our fellow employees having tested positive, requiring many more unvaccinated employees to quarantine using their own leave, and at least one of those employees has spent the last several days in intensive care at a local hospital,” City Manager Shelley Dickstein said. “And, in fact, we have had one employee pass away last week determined to be related to COVID complications.”

“None of these employees received a vaccine,” Dickstein said. “We want to emphasize the importance of vaccinations and mask wearing to keep everyone safe before it is too late for any more of our city of Dayton employees.”

Dayton is looking at other communities that have implemented mandatory vaccinations and testing and that research will shape what the city’s program looks like, Dickstein said.

“We are considering and evaluating mandatory vaccinations as well as mandatory testing, and more information will be coming out later this week with regards to those processes and requirements,” Dickstein said. “This is all to assure the city is doing its part to protect the community we serve and the family that shows up every day to provide those services.”

Dr. Michael Doan, Montgomery County medical director, said the vaccine is still 95% effective, but vaccinated people can still spread the delta variant to others.

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