116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
As new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mask wearing regardless of vaccination status in most Iowa counties, including Linn and Johnson, many retailers have been reluctant to impose requirements some of them followed until recently.
Mask use inside Hy-Vee grocery stores is “strongly encouraged,” spokeswoman Tina Potthoff said, but the company has “never mandated” masks for customers in its nearly 250 stores in the Midwest. It did, however, follow local mask requirements like ones that had been enacted by the mayors of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.
The West Des Moines-based grocer is asking unvaccinated customers to wear masks. Its employees were required to wear masks earlier in the pandemic, but vaccinated workers no longer must.
Casey’s General Stores requires unvaccinated workers to wear masks and “strongly encourages” but does not require masks for vaccinated workers, spokeswoman Katie Petru said. It also was encouraging customers to wear masks inside its stores.
“This is an easy, effective way to prevent spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” Petru said in an email.
Fareway Stores does not require masks, regardless of vaccination status, according to its website. But masks are “strongly recommended” for those who aren’t vaccinated.
Many national retailers have updated their mask policies for employees since the revised CDC guidance, but have stopped short of requiring masks for customers.
Target’s mask policy requires mask use for employees and “strongly” recommends mask wearing for customers.
Walmart said July 30 employees have to wear masks, and the retailer will “strongly encourage” customers to do the same. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company is also requiring its employees to get vaccinated by Oct. 4.
Kohl’s reinstated its mask requirement Aug. 3 for employees in areas with substantial or high risk of transmission, but the Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based department store only recommends masking for customers.
As of Friday, almost all of Iowa — 90 out of its 99 counties — have community transmission rates of either “substantial” or “high” under which the updated CDC guidance applies.
Several local governments, including Cedar Rapids, Linn County and Iowa City, have implemented mask requirements for visitors to their public buildings.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds prohibited schools and local governments from issuing mask mandates in May.
Mixed policies from financial institutions
GreenState Credit Union does not have any plans to require masks in its buildings, chief marketing officer Jim Kelly told The Gazette, but is “continually monitoring” the situation.
Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust is one of the few Iowa businesses to reinstate a mask requirement. All customers, regardless of their vaccination status, must wear a mask inside. Employees also must wear masks when social distancing is not possible. The bank will provide disposable masks to customers who forget a mask, and staff may ask a customer to remove a mask temporarily for identification.
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