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Smith's requires masks for unvaccinated employees as Delta variant surges; encourages all customers to mask up

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Posted at 7:29 AM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 09:35:56-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A local grocery chain is joining other retailers like Walmart and Target in adapting its mask policy as the Delta variant of COVID-19 surges in many places across the country, including Utah.

Smith's grocery stores, owned by Kroger, now requires all unvaccinated employees wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose when inside its stores, and "strongly encourage" that both unvaccinated and vaccinated customers wear a mask.

"Our current mask guidance requires unvaccinated associates to wear masks and requests that unvaccinated associates and customers wear masks when in our stores and facilities," Kroger spokeswoman Aubriana Martindale told FOX 13 News.

READ: UDOH recommends all K-12 students, staff wear masks indoors

The new mask policy comes in light of the Delta variant and new CDC guidance.

"We will continue to abide by all state and local mandates and encourage all Americans to get vaccinated, including our associates," Martindale added.

READ: Utah reports more than 2,200 new COVID cases over the weekend; 15 deaths

The CDC announced last week that it’s now recommending that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks in public, indoor spaces in areas where there is substantial or high transmission of the coronavirus.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the agency changed its mask recommendation because new data shows that some people infected with the highly transmissible delta variant can spread the virus to others even after being vaccinated.