Walmart Ends Mask Mandate for More Than 1.5 Million Vaccinated Employees

by Victoria Santiago

Walmart announced today that it will no longer be enforcing a mask mandate for employees that are fully vaccinated. They can still choose to wear a mask if they want to, though.

The retailer announced the end of their mask mandate in a memo. “Effective immediately, fully vaccinated associates will not be required to wear masks while working in any Walmart or Sam’s Club facility, unless required by a state or local mandate or ordinance.”

This rule change will affect roughly 1.6 million employees that either work for Walmart or Sam’s Club. Even though they’ve dropped their rule, mandates could still be in effect locally or state-wide. In addition to that, people working in Walmart pharmacies or health clinics will still need to wear a mask. Again, this only applies to workers who are fully vaccinated. The retailer defined “fully vaccinated” as having gotten two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

On top of no longer enforcing a mask mandate, Walmart said that by the end of this month daily health screenings will no longer be needed for employees. However, this does not apply to workers in CA, NY, and VA. They’ll still need to do daily health screenings.

As the retailer relaxes their COVID-19 rules, they also do away with related benefits. For example, a Walmart policy that gave paid leave to workers out due to COVID-19 will be discontinued. According to Axios, the paid leave policy will end on March 31.

New York Ends Its Mask Mandate, Some Places Still Require Them

Earlier this week, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the state is ending its mask mandate. Prior to this, NY required masks to be worn in most public spaces. However, Gov. Hochul noted that the mandate will still be in place for schools. She says that the state will revisit the school’s mask mandates during the first week of March. Kids will be returning to school from their spring break around that time.

Schools aren’t the only places where masks will still be required in NY. The mandate still applies to healthcare facilities, certain types of shelters, and public transit. According to the governor, all private businesses will be able to make their own rules. Private business mask rules will apply to both their workers and their customers.

This mask mandate was put into effect in December 2021. It applied to grocery stores, shops, offices, and more. The mandate was originally going to expire on February 10 but was ended a day earlier. According to the governor, this is because infection and hospitalization rates were down. Gov. Hochul noted that this is not the end of fighting COVID-19 in NY. Things are simply looking better.