- The Washington Times - Monday, May 17, 2021

Target says it will no longer require fully vaccinated customers to wear masks unless the local government requires it, joining the likes of Walmart, Starbucks and Costco in loosening in-store rules after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suddenly relaxed its COVID-19 guidance last week.

“Given the CDC’s updated guidance, Target no longer requires fully vaccinated guests and team members to wear face coverings in our stores, except where it’s required by local ordinances,” the company website says. “Face coverings continue to be strongly recommended for guests and team members who are not fully vaccinated and we continue our increased safety and cleaning measures, including social distancing, throughout our stores.”

A person is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna versions.

The CDC on Thursday said these people don’t have to wear a mask outdoors or indoors in most settings, stunning state officials and business leaders who weren’t given any warning of the change and had to adjust or maintain their policies.

Starbucks said that as of Monday, masks will be optional for fully vaccinated customers.

About 37% of the U.S. population has completed their vaccination course, according to CDC data.

The new framework amounts to an honor system, so there are widespread concerns that unvaccinated people will shed their masks and blend in.

The United Food and Commercial Workers, a labor union for grocery and retail workers, criticized the CDC guidance for that reason.

The union, which represents 1.3 million frontline workers, said it will be impossible to tell who got the shots and who didn’t, forcing employees to police the issue.

It also said it supports New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who said he is not ready to lift his statewide mask mandate.

“Gov. Murphy is showing the leadership New Jersey workers and families need by putting public health and safety first and keeping the state’s mask mandate in place,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “While vaccinations are helping us slow the spread of COVID, the pandemic is far from over and we cannot let our guard down.”

In neighboring New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state will adopt the new CDC guidance for vaccinated people on Wednesday.

“Unvaccinated people should continue to wear a mask,” the Democratic governor tweeted Monday. “Masks will still be required on public transit, in schools & some communal settings. Private venues may require masks.”

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