Some of the largest retailers in the world aren’t waiting for the state and counties to decide whether to agree with the CDC that vaccinate people no longer need masks in most situations.
However, California has not yet announced whether it will follow the new CDC guidance and lift the state's mask mandate. As a result, Bay Area counties will have to wait for state guidance to do the same. At this time, masks are still required indoors in most cases.
Trader Joe’s, Costco and Walmart have all announced they're now dropping their mask mandates for those who are fully vaccinated.
Word spread fast at Trader Joe’s, but customers aren’t taking them off just yet.
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Diana Nakano of Santa Clara was surprised, and relieved, to hear the market was no longer requiring masks for those fully vaccinated. She kept her mask off as she went shopping , but emphasized she is not an anti-vaxxer. In fact, she’s been very diligent.
“I'm a teacher. I have to wear it at work,” she said. “So I’ve had it on for the last four hours. It’s a bit suffocating so I’m happy to take it off.”
When asked what she thought about Trader Joe’s dropping the mask mandate, she said, “I think if they’re following guidelines and we’re now able to loosen things up a little bit, why not?”
Later in the day, Costco and Walmart also revised their mask mandate, but some customers didn’t seem surprised that some retailers weren’t waiting.
“It’s new. It’s very new,” said Teddy Barnes of Brentwood. “It’s a new step but I believe that maybe other corporations will follow their lead. “
Still, throughout the day we saw the vast majority of customers at Trader Joe’s leaving their masks on.
One customer said there’s still too many unknowns.
“Given that there’s a large group of people who don’t believe in the vaccine, and I think lifting the mandate is just going to give them free access not to have to wear a mask,” said Barbara Esquivel of Santa Clara. “I still need to protect myself.”
Wendy Gutshall, spokesperson for Safeway, said the chain is following state and local guidelines so they continue to require masks for all associated and customers.
The state said it is still evaluating the CDC recommendations and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department is waiting for that state response for guidance.
NBC Bay Area reached out to other major chains, including Whole Foods, but have not heard back.