Walmart to reinstate mask-wearing for workers in high-risks counties

Walmart announced on Friday that it will make masks a requirement for all store workers in high-risk counties in the U.S. as per the latest CDC rankings. Vaccination will not be a factor for this mask mandate.

In addition to workers, the shoppers are also encouraged to wear masks in the stores, although they are not required to do so, as was conveyed to the staff via a memo.

The retail giant said it will be reintroducing signage near the entrance of the stores and warehouse clubs to spread awareness regarding CDC’s revised guidance. Furthermore, the company will be reviewing store mask rules every week now.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new set of recommendations calling for mask-wearing in areas labeled as high-transmission regions- counties where the COVID-19 virus cases are high, which is two-thirds of all counties in the U.S.

Two months ago, in May, the CDC had stated that vaccinated individuals could forgo wearing masks. Following the decision, Walmart suspended the mask mandate for vaccinated workers and customers. However, with growing concerns about the rapid spreading delta variant, the company has revised following another evaluation by the CDC.

The company also announced that it will be doubling the staff incentive for the COVID vaccine. The incentive will see the current amount of $75 increase twofold to $150 in the August 19 dated paycheck, Walmart said on Friday.

Walmart will soon implement a new process for verification of vaccine status for U.S. employees. It plans to share more details about this process in the future.

Amidst growing concerns and increasing cases, the CDC has warned House lawmakers that the delta variant is contagious as the chickenpox, possesses a longer transmission duration than the original COVID-19 strain, and may lead to further illness amongst the elderly, regardless of if they are fully vaccinated or not.
“We know vaccinations are our solution to drive change,” Walmart said in the memo sent to all U.S. employees. “We are urging you to get vaccinated and want to see many more of you vaccinated.”

The company further emphasized that business travel should be limited to “business-critical” travel only, at this time.

Walmart is the largest retailer in the U.S., with around 4,700 U.S. stores, and the biggest private employer boasting 1.6 million U.S. workers.