Wawa among retailers requiring masks for employees, recommending for customers

A number of companies are requiring employees to wear masks, while recommending customers do the same.

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Thursday, August 5, 2021
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"We recommend everyone wear masks while shopping in our stores, regardless of vaccination status," Wawa says.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Wawa is among the latest retailers to require their workers to wear masks.

In a statement to Action News, the Delaware County, Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain said it updated its mandate for employees on Wednesday.

"Starting Wednesday, Aug. 4, Wawa associates in all stores will be required to wear masks," Wawa said.

Wawa, citing the latest CDC guidance on masks, is recommending all customers wear masks while inside their stores, regardless of their vaccination status.

"Wawa is committed to keeping its associates, customers and communities safe," the company said.

RELATED: As officials ponder COVID-19 booster shots, businesses switch gears on masks

Last week, the CDC reversed course on some of its masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging. The CDC based the change on new information concerning the ability of the delta variant spreading among vaccinated people.

Most new infections in the U.S. continue to be among unvaccinated people. But "breakthrough" infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people. When earlier strains of the virus predominated, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of virus and were deemed unlikely to spread the virus much, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

But with the delta variant, the level of virus in infected vaccinated people is "indistinguishable" from the level of virus in the noses and throats of unvaccinated people, Walensky said.

"High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with delta can transmit the virus," Walensky said in a statement.

Starbucks strongly recommends customers wear facial coverings while visiting its stores, regardless of vaccination status. Where mandated by local law or regulation, Starbucks will require customers wear masks while in its stores.

"Additionally, starting August 5 all company-operated store partners are required, regardless of vaccination status, to wear facial coverings while on shift," Starbucks said.

Walmart said all Walmart and Sam's Club associates working in an area of substantial or high transmission are required to wear a mask or face covering while working indoors, regardless of vaccination status. In these counties and where there are state or local mask mandates, associates will be required to wear masks inside its facilities, including stores, clubs, distribution centers, fulfillment centers, and its campus offices.

Target said it requires face coverings for their employees. It strongly recommends face coverings for all guests in areas with substantial or high risk of transmission, as defined by the CDC.

"Target continues to recommend face coverings for unvaccinated team members and guests at all stores across the country," the company's statement read.

At McDonald's, all customers and staff will be required to wear masks in areas with high or substantial transmission, regardless of their vaccination status.

Home Depot also updated its masks guidance.

"As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the U.S., beginning August 2, we'll require all associates, contractors and vendors to wear a mask while indoors at all U.S. Home Depot stores, distribution centers, office locations and customers' homes or businesses, regardless of vaccination status," Home Depot said, adding, "We'll ask customers to wear masks while in our stores and continue to offer masks to those who don't have one."

Lowe's said associates are required to wear masks inside its U.S. locations and while working in a customer's home or business, regardless of vaccination status.

"Stores will have signs encouraging customers to wear masks, and free masks will continue to be available for customers who request them," Lowe's said.

Kohl's will require store associates in counties with substantial or high risk of transmission, as identified by the CDC, to wear masks in store.

"We also recommend that customers in substantial and high-risk counties wear masks while shopping.," Kohl's said. "As always, we are following state and local mask mandates. We continue to encourage Kohl's associates to get the COVID-19 vaccine and are providing resources to help them do that."

CVS sent the following statement to Action News regarding its mask policy, as of July 30: "CVS Health is requiring all colleagues in all locations, regardless of vaccination status, to temporarily wear either a face mask or cloth face covering while working. In addition, all vendors and customers are encouraged to wear either a face mask or cloth face covering while in a CVS Health store or office location."