With States Rolling Back Mask Mandates, Some Stores Stick to Nationwide Policies

Policy clarifications come in as Texas and Mississippi end mask mandates. 

Just a few weeks after winter storms decimated crops and forced powerless citizens to boil water, Texas Governor Greg Abbott decided the time was right to end the state's mask mandate and allow businesses to open up to 100 percent capacity. Mississippi also followed suit with a similar declaration of its own.

Abbott supposedly made the decision to reopen businesses and roll back mandates without the consultation of a majority of the state's four coronavirus medical advisors. The move also appears out of step with prevailing CDC guidelines, drawing criticism from the Biden administration. With that in mind, it's no great shock that certain private businesses have announced that they plan to stick with their broader nationwide policies even as some states loosen or entirely do away with mask mandates.

In the wake of the Texas and Mississippi announcements, certain retailers with a significant nationwide footprint clarified that their mask policies will still apply. Among retailers requiring customers (not to mention employees) to wear masks even in no-mandate states are Walmart and Target, with the latter clarifying that it will continue to offer free masks at the entrance of stores for shoppers who may need one. Costco, another big box retailer that certainly saw a lot of panic buying a year ago, will also keep its mask policies in place.

Similarly, a number of grocers and supermarket chains are holding onto their mask policies in an effort to keep their essential workers safe. Aldi says its nationwide policy will be in place, as did Kroger and Whole Foods.

Even other supermarkets who've expressed their deference to state and local policies still seem to strongly encourage customers to mask up, even if they won't be forced to do so. Those include Albertson's, H-E-B, and Randall's, among others. That would mean customers in 34 states plus DC are still required to wear masks.

Though not everyone may agree, these private businesses have the right to set their own mask policies that are more stringent than a given state's. The end of a mask mandate simply means that establishments are no longer required to tell would-be customers to mask up, and those who don't feel like wearing one can simply take their business elsewhere. It's a free country, after all.


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