SAN ANTONIO – New mask guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week has consumers wondering if they still need to mask up if they’re heading into a store or attraction.
Major retailers like Target, Walmart and Costco have eased their requirements to meet the CDC’s guidelines that state they can ditch a face-covering in most indoor settings if they are fully vaccinated against the virus.
President Joe Biden and federal health officials announced the major step toward a normal, pre-pandemic life on Thursday, encouraging people to get a shot if they haven’t already.
Under the new recommendations, fully vaccinated people can attend crowded outdoor events and resume many indoor activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by state or local laws.
The guidelines still call for masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, airplanes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
But with the new guidelines came a new set of confusion on how to enforce masks, as there’s no way to know for sure if a person has been vaccinated or not.
Businesses that are making masks optional for vaccinated people will run on the honor system, and will ask those who aren’t vaccinated to wear a face covering.
For example, Costco said it will not require a customer to show proof of a jab from Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.
“We will not require proof of vaccination, but we ask for members’ responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy,” President and CEO Craig Jelinek said in a letter.
See below for a list of businesses, places and attractions that have chosen to update their policies, and others that are taking a closer look at their mandates.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available from San Antonio attractions and chains, like H-E-B and Whataburger.
Places where masks are no longer required for vaccinated people
- Aquatica - Face coverings will no longer be required for fully vaccinated guests at Aquatica at SeaWorld San Antonio, but park employees will be required to continue to wear masks at this time.
- City of San Antonio facilities - Starting Monday, masks and social distancing will be optional for fully vaccinated staff and clients at city facilities. “I remain committed to ensuring the health and safety of our city staff and our customers,” City Manager Erik Walsh said in a release. “It’s easier than ever to receive a no-cost COVID-19 vaccine. Being able to return to normal activities is just one more incentive to getting vaccinated. Do it for you. Do it for our frontline workers. Do it for San Antonio.”
- Costco - Guests can enter a store without a face covering if they are fully vaccinated if the state or local jurisdiction does not have a policy. “We will not require proof of vaccination, but we ask for members’ responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy,” President and CEO Craig Jelinek said in a letter. “Face coverings will still be required in healthcare settings, including Pharmacy, Optical, Hearing Aid. Costco continues to recommend that all members and guests, especially those who are at higher risk, wear a mask or shield.”
- CVS - The pharmacy chain announced Monday that fully vaccinated customers are no longer required to wear face coverings inside of its stores unless mandated by state or local guidelines. Customers who are not fully vaccinated are asked to still wear masks in stores. Employees will also be required to wear masks while they are working. “Health, safety and science will continue to drive our decision-making process,” CVS said.
- LEGOLAND Discovery Center - Jeremy Aguillen, the general manager of SEA LIFE San Antonio and LEGOLAND Discovery Center San Antonio, told KSAT that the venue will no longer require facemasks. “While face masks are highly recommended during your visit to LEGOLAND Discovery Center and SEA LIFE San Antonio, face masks for guests who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required. Face masks or coverings are required for all employees and we still strongly recommend social distancing,” he said.
- San Antonio Zoo - A spokesperson said Monday that masks will be strongly recommended for guests who are not vaccinated but they will be required for animal encounters. “Guests and staff are welcome to wear masks if that makes them more comfortable,” spokesperson Hope Roth said. Staff who are not vaccinated or working in certain animal areas and encounters will still be required to wear masks.
- Sam’s Club - Vaccinated customers no longer need to wear face coverings inside club stores unless required by local or state ordinances. Unvaccinated customers will be asked to wear face coverings inside club stores. Starting Tuesday, vaccinated employees will not be required to wear masks.
- SEA LIFE San Antonio - Jeremy Aguillen, the general manager of SEA LIFE San Antonio and LEGOLAND Discovery Center San Antonio, told KSAT that the aquarium, which opens May 25, will not require facemasks. “While face masks are highly recommended during your visit to LEGOLAND Discovery Center and SEA LIFE San Antonio, face masks for guests who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required. Face masks or coverings are required for all employees and we still strongly recommend social distancing,” he said.
- SeaWorld - Guests at SeaWorld San Antonio do not have to wear face coverings if they are fully vaccinated, but employees must continue to do so. “The safety of our guests, Ambassadors and animals in our care remains our top priority,” a SeaWorld spokesperson said. “We will continue to monitor and address this changing environment as necessary.”
- Six Flags Fiesta Texas - In addition to no longer requiring masks for vaccinated people, the park will also no longer have temperature screenings. The park has released the following statement: “Six Flags Fiesta Texas is updating its mask policy, effective Saturday, May 22, 2021. In adherence with new guidance from the CDC and local and state recommendations, guests and team members who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will no longer be required to wear masks while in the park (except where state and local guidance still remains). Consistent with CDC guidance, we will continue to recommend masks for unvaccinated individuals, including guests and team members. We will also no longer conduct temperature screenings on guests nor will we require advanced reservations to visit the park.”
- Starbucks - Face coverings for vaccinated customers will be optional starting on Monday unless required by local or state law.
- Target - Target is no longer requiring face coverings for customers or employees who are fully vaccinated, except where it’s required by local or state ordinances. “Face coverings continue to be strongly recommended for guests and team members who are not fully vaccinated and we continue our increased safety and cleaning measures, including social distancing, throughout our stores.”
- Trader Joe’s - The supermarket chain will no longer require customers to wear face masks in its stores, but employees will still be required to wear coverings, spokesperson Kenya Friend-Daniel told USA TODAY.
- Walmart - Vaccinated customers no longer need to wear face coverings inside stores unless required by local or state ordinances. Unvaccinated customers will be asked to wear face coverings inside stores. Starting Tuesday, vaccinated employees will not be required to wear masks.
Businesses, places that haven’t updated their mask policy - yet
- Bed Bath and Beyond - A spokesperson told Business Insider that it will keep its mask policy in place for now, pending a review.
- DoSeum - The San Antonio children’s museum told KSAT that it has not updated its mask policy as of Monday. “However, we are tracking closely and considering the best approach moving forward as we continue to prioritize the safety of all our guests and staff,” said Sandra Garcia, the vice president of marketing.
- Dollar General - The chain has yet to update its policy, which requires face coverings in stores, distribution centers and corporate offices.
- Home Depot - The retailer has not updated its mask policy, a spokesperson told Business Insider.
- IKEA - Stores in the U.S. will continue to require face coverings for guests and employees. “We recognize the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has updated their guidance for face coverings/masks. However, changing our mask policy requires careful consideration and planning. Our current mask and social distancing protocols will stay in place for the time being for our co-workers and customers.”
- Fiesta Texas - The Six Flags park is “evaluating the newest CDC recommendations and will make updates as needed with the health and safety of our guests and team members top of mind and consistent with applicable law,” Marketing and Communications Manager Jeff Filicko said.
- Macy’s - The chain told Business Insider that will keep masks mandatory in stores.
- San Antonio International Airport - The airport will still enforce its mask mandate through Sept. 13, according to local officials. The requirement applies to all airport visitors, regardless if they have been fully vaccinated, according to airport officials.
- Walgreens - The pharmacy chain will keep its mask use policy in place “for the time being,” a spokesperson told USA TODAY. “As a destination for COVID vaccine and testing we have decided to keep our current face covering policy in place for the time being. The safety of our team members and customers is our top priority and will continue to guide our decision process.”
- Witte Museum - The museum has not changed its policy on face coverings, Director of Communications Samantha Rendon said. “Witte Museum leadership is reviewing policies on face coverings and other policies regarding COVID 19 and will provide updates as soon as possible,” she said. “In the meantime, the Witte is still requiring face coverings inside the museum. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated so face coverings are no longer necessary.”