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Stores and restaurants are bringing back mask mandates as COVID surges. What to know

·3 min read

Mask rules are making a comeback at retailers and restaurants as the U.S. sees a rapid rise in coronavirus cases, coupled with concerns over spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

Home Depot on Monday joined a growing list of stores requiring employees to wear a face mask, regardless of vaccination status. Shoppers will have to do the same.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our number one concern has been for the health and safety of our customers and associates,” the home improvement store said in a news release. “As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the U.S. ... we’ll require all associates, contractors and vendors to wear a mask while indoors at all U.S. Home Depot stores, distribution centers, office locations and customers’ homes or businesses.”

Home Depot said it will provide masks to customers who don’t have one.

It isn’t alone. Other large stores and restaurants — including Costco, Starbucks, Target and McDonald’s — have updated their mask policies in the last week after the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though some states have barred schools and local governments from imposing mask rules, stores and other businesses can still require them.

Here’s where you’ll have to mask up on your next trip:

McDonald’s

The fast food giant is mandating that customers wear a face mask inside restaurants in areas with high risk of COVID-19 transmission, CNBC reported, citing a memo sent to franchisees July 30. Staff will also need to start wearing masks again, though they was already mandatory for unvaccinated workers and guests.

Other chains are keeping masks optional for customers but requiring them for employees. They include:

Walmart

Effective immediately, Walmart says team members are required to wear masks inside all stores and facilities, especially in areas with “substantial or high (COVID-19) transmission,” according to an online news release. The changes are in line with recent guidance from the CDC.

Though mask-wearing is optional for customers, doing so is “strongly encouraged.”

Target

Masks are also making a comeback at Target, where workers will be required to mask up in in locations where coronavirus cases are rising and there’s high risk of transmission.

“We’ll follow all local mandates, as we have throughout the pandemic, and continue to monitor guidance from the CDC closely,” the company said in a news release. “We will also maintain all of our health and safety protocols that include increased cleaning measures and social distancing.”

Publix

Employees, regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated, must “wear face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside any Publix location,” the supermarket chain announced.

“We encourage all to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19,” according to a statement posted online. “Customers and associates should remain physically distanced from others while inside any Publix store.”

The changes went into effect Aug. 2.

Starbucks

In an Aug. 2 memo, the coffee chain said it “strongly recommends” that guests wear a face mask when visiting its stores but will require them “where mandated by local law or regulation.”

“Additionally, starting August 5 all company-operated store partners are required, regardless of vaccination status, to wear facial coverings while on shift,” the company said.

Costco

In a memo posted to its website Aug. 3, the wholesale club said it “will follow the face mask regulations of the applicable state and local jurisdictions.”

It’s unclear if the changes apply to both club members and employees, however.

This list will continue to be updated.

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