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Kroger lifts mask mandate for fully vaccinated shoppers, except for Washington stores

Kroger is the parent company of QFC and Fred Meyer. However, stores in Washington state will continue to require people wear masks for now.

Kroger has announced that fully vaccinated customers and most employees will no longer need to wear masks beginning Thursday.

In the announcement, Kroger, which is the parent company of Fred Meyer and QFC, cited the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that states fully vaccinated Americans no longer have to mask up in most settings.

"Based on the CDC’s science-based guidance and the input of our associates, we are updating our mask policy in a way that balances our values of safety and respect."

In Washington state, however, masks will continue to be required for Fred Meyer workers and customers.

"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, The Kroger Family of Companies’ most urgent priority has been the safety of our associates and customers. Last week, the CDC issued new guidance for individuals who have been fully vaccinated," a statement from a Fred Meyer spokesperson read. "However, we are still requiring our associates and customers to wear masks in our Washington stores at this time. We will continue to review the situation and make adjustments in order to ensure the safety of our associates and customers. 

"We will continue to implement enhanced cleaning and physical distancing across all facilities as well as offer associates a $100 one-time payment for receiving the recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. We also encourage customers to visit www.kroger.com/covidvaccine to make an appointment. Many pharmacies are also accepting walk-in appointments for added convenience."

Kroger says its decision applies to stores, distribution centers, plants and offices unless otherwise required by state or local mandates.

RELATED: CDC director says mask turnaround based solely on science

For those who are not vaccinated, Kroger is requesting those customers to continue to wear a mask.

Employees in Kroger pharmacies and clinics will be required to continue wearing a mask due to the CDC's guidance for health care settings.

Washington state has adopted the CDC guidance on masking, although businesses can still impose mask mandates.

However, King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said this week he believes the CDC’s decision to roll back the mask guidance was a little premature. Duchin said the county may need to adopt a stronger mask-wearing mandate to help bring the rate of COVID-19 transmission down.