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Utah's largest grocery chains differ on mask requirements

Smith's Harmons.jpg
Posted at 12:03 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-15 21:29:09-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's largest grocery store chains, Smith's and Harmons, differ on whether customers need to wear masks while shopping at their locations.

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Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's announcement that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear face coverings in most indoor locations, Harmons said it will drop the requirement at all its locations starting Sunday, May 16.

The company's fully vaccinated employees will also be allowed to work mask-free beginning May 24.

"We also recognize that many people may continue to feel more comfortable wearing a mask — we welcome and honor that decision and ask for kindness and patience toward everyone in our community as we progress back to 'normal,'" the company said in a statement. "The past year has been long and difficult. At the core of who we are, as a community-based business, is the ability to serve our customers and to share our love of food. We are excited that we can now get back to the business of doing that safely."

Meanwhile, Smith's parent company, Kroger, says it will continue to require its customers wear masks as they review their policies regarding face coverings.

“As we have throughout the pandemic, we are reviewing current safety practices, the CDC’s latest guidance, and soliciting feedback from associates to guide the next phase of our policy,” the company said in a statement.

Smith's currently has 53 locations in Utah.

The CDC announced Thursday that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear face coverings in most indoor locations. However, Kroger, which operates Smith's, is among a number of large retailers that are waiting to give the all-clear on masks.

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Target, CVS, Home Depot and Starbucks have all said they will require customers to wear masks, according to USA Today and Business Insider.

However, Costco, Walmart and Trader Joe's announced Friday that fully vaccinated guests will not have to wear masks while shopping in their stores.

"We encourage customers to follow the guidance of health officials, including, as appropriate, CDC guidelines that advise customers who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks while shopping," the company wrote on its website Friday.