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Walmart now says vaccinated shoppers won’t need masks

Customers wearing face masks shop at a Walmart store.
Getty Images via CNN
Customers wearing face masks shop at a Walmart store.

NEW YORK, NY — Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, said Friday afternoon that it won’t require vaccinated shoppers or workers to wear a mask in its U.S. stores, unless state or local laws say otherwise.

Vaccinated shoppers can go mask-less immediately, the company said. Vaccinated workers can stop wearing them on May 18.

A company statement said un-vaccinated shoppers are asked to keep wearing masks in stores.

Walmart executives also sent out a letter Friday afternoon to Walmart and Sam's Club stores as well as supply chain facilities encouraging employees to get vaccinated.

As an incentive, Walmart said it was offering workers $75 if they prove they’ve been vaccinated.

Walmart said it won’t ask shoppers if they’ve been vaccinated. Workers, however, will need to tell the company if they’ve been vaccinated in order to go mask-less.

The move by Walmart and Sam's Club came as rival Costco earlier in the day had announced vaccinated customers could shop without masks at its locations where there were no state or local mask mandates.

"We will allow members and guests who are fully vaccinated to enter Costco without a face mask or face shield," in those areas, the company said in a message posted to its website Friday morning. "Costco continues to recommend that all members and guests, especially those who are at higher risk, wear a mask or shield."

Costco won't require proof that customers have been vaccinated. Instead, the message said, "we ask for members' responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy."

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