MILWAUKEE — While the CDC announced this week vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks, grocery shoppers may want to hold onto a mask for their next trip.
The announcement Thursday by CDC director Rochelle Walensky led many state and local governments to reconsider their own mask mandates. Within 24 hours, many Wisconsin grocers had already amended or reiterated their mask requirements.
Meijer announced Friday it would continue requiring masks in its stores, as did Kroger, the parent company of Pick 'n Save.
“I think you’re going to see a variety of different options people will engage across the state,” said Brandon Scholz, president of the Wisconsin Grocers Association.
Scholz said the WGA is not giving one-size-fits-all to its members across the state, instead advising stores to continue following their local health guidelines.
Looser COVID-19 protocols will undoubtedly lead to some consumer confusion. For example, Trader Joe’s announced Friday its stores would no longer require vaccinated customers to wear masks, though employees would not check for proof of vaccinations.
Milwaukee health commissioner Kirsten Johnson said the city’s health department is reviewing its mask policies as the city prepares to lift most COVID-19 safety restrictions by June 15.
“When someone who’s vaccinated can be unmasked in a public setting indoors, there’s no way to tell who’s vaccinated or not,” Johnson said.
Even once mask mandates are lifted, the WGA expects many grocers to move forward with some pandemic protocols, such as plexiglass between shoppers and employees, as well as enhanced cleaning schedules.
“I think you’ll still see things in place grocers have learned over the year that are good safety measures, good health and safety protocols that they’ll continue to employ,” Scholz said. “It’s to the benefit of their customers and to their employees.”
Scholtz also reminds shoppers the pandemic is not over, so they can expect plenty of stores to keep mask requirements in place as they try to protect customers and essential workers.