Target is the latest major U.S. company to restore mask requirements for employees in areas with high rates of coronavirus infections, in step with new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations increase sharply across the country.
Target said Monday all store employees will be required to wear masks in counties deemed high risk for coronavirus transmission starting Tuesday.
The shift will not apply to customers, Target said, though it will encourage shoppers in those high-risk areas to wear face coverings as well.
Walmart and Sam’s Club announced a similar policy on Friday, saying the stores would require employees to mask up and urge shoppers to do the same by posting signs at store entrances and assigning employees to pass out face masks.
Employees at Florida’s Publix grocery stores will also be required to wear a mask starting Monday regardless of a vaccination status, the company said last week.
The day after the new CDC mask guidance was released last week, Apple said it would mandate that both staff and customers cover their faces in stores located in high-risk areas.
Many big-box retailers dropped their mask requirements for staff and shoppers starting in May, after the CDC said it was safe for fully vaccinated people to go maskless in most public settings. However, a recent spike in new infections and jumps in hospitalizations thought to be driven by the more delta variant has pushed many entities to reconsider their policies amid fears of another wave. U.S. cities have moved to reinstate mandated masking in some spaces, and companies like Disney and Facebook have announced they’ll require coronavirus vaccines for all employees.