These Restaurants and Retailers are Tightening Their Mask Rules

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They've Got the Delta Blues

It might be time to unwad that ball of masks at the bottom of your purse, or pull them out of your jeans pockets. Stores and restaurants around the nation are revisiting their recently relaxed mask policies as the Delta variant boosts COVID-19 cases. Even vaccinated customers and workers are being asked to cover their faces again in many cases. Here are the latest policies at some of the nation's biggest chains.

Related: Industries That Have Been Hit Hardest by the Pandemic

McDonalds restaurant exterior. View of the fast food restaurant on sunny day. FInland, Vantaa, 28feb2020
Natalia Kuzina/istockphoto
Starbucks coffee shop


"In alignment with the updated guidance from the CDC, Starbucks strongly recommends customers wear facial coverings while visiting our stores, regardless of vaccination status," Starbucks now says. Customers will be required to mask up where local mandates are in effect, and all employees in company-owned stores will be required to cover their faces beginning Aug. 5, whether or not they've been vaccinated. 

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Walmart Optimizes Prices
Target store


Masks are now "strongly recommended" for shoppers at Target locations in areas with high or substantial COVID-19 transmission. Like Walmart, Target will now require its workers to wear face coverings in those areas, regardless of vaccination status.



Similar to Walmart and Target, Kohl's will require employees in areas with high or substantial COVID-19 transmission to don their masks. "We also recommend that customers in substantial and high-risk counties wear masks while shopping," Kohl's says. "As always, we are following state and local mask mandates."



Even if you live in an area with low COVID-19 transmission, Kroger wants you to cover your face. "We strongly encourage all individuals, including those who are vaccinated, to wear a mask when in our stores and facilities," Kroger's updated policy reads. Unvaccinated workers will still be required to wear masks, in keeping with Kroger's prior policy, and the chain is offering $100 for workers to get immunized. 

The Home Depot
Lowe's Home Improvement Store


Mirroring rival Home Depot, Lowe's is now requiring its employees to wear masks inside its stores and customers' homes. It's stopping short of mandating them chain-wide for shoppers, however. "Lowe's will continue to abide by all state and local mask mandates," reads an updated statement. "Stores will have signs encouraging customers to wear masks, and free masks will continue to be available for customers who request them."

Summer Steals


Whether you have to mask up at Costco depends on whether any local mandates are in effect, the warehouse chain says. "Costco locations will follow the face mask regulations of the applicable state and local jurisdictions," reads a statement on its website. Costco has also decided to keep special senior shopping hours on Tuesday and Thursday mornings after earlier saying it would end the practice.

Related: Costco Announces Two Major Changes Affecting Shoppers



Long one of the strictest retailers when it comes to COVID-19 safety measures, Apple stores are again requiring all employees and customers to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. Apple had only recently dropped that requirement for customers in June.

Whole Foods Under Amazon a Year Later

Whole Foods

While Whole Foods says "customers and team members who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are welcome in most of our store locations without a mask," it still recommends masks "in areas where transmission is high." Of course, it also requires masks in any areas covered by local mandates.

Exterior view of one Publix Super Markets.


The updated mask policy at this major southeastern grocer reiterates CDC guidelines recommending that "people in areas of substantial- or high-transmission risk wear face coverings" inside stores. Publix is also now requiring employees to wear masks inside stores, even if they've been vaccinated.