Private companies may still require masks, even as the CDC relaxes guidance for fully vaccinated Americans

Walgreens masks
  • The CDC says fully vaccinated Americans are no longer required to wear a mask when indoors or outdoors.
  • However, private businesses may still require patrons to remain masked.
  • The TSA’s mask mandate for public transportation isn’t set to expire until September 13.
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Private companies may still require its customers to wear face masks despite the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Thursday announcement that fully vaccinated Americans will no longer have wear masks when indoors or outdoors.

The CDC has been slowly pulling back its mask mandate since March as vaccine rollout has continued across the US.

The agency has already said that vaccinated people can gather together indoors or go outside without a face covering. And now, according to the CDC’s new guidance, people who have waited two weeks since their last dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be allowed to shed their masks both indoors and outdoors (with the exception of healthcare settings).

But don’t go running unmasked to your nearest grocery store just yet: private companies, including stores and airlines, may still mandate that patrons wear a face mask due to the logistical challenges of determining who is fully vaccinated.

Several states have banned the use of “vaccine passports,” which act as proof of vaccination. In Arizona, for example, Gov. Doug Ducey said: “While we strongly recommend all Arizonans get the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not mandated in our state – and it never will be. Vaccination is up to each individual, not the government.”

Such measures make it difficult for companies to verify who has or hasn’t been vaccinated yet, with one cruise line threatening to stop sailing out of Florida unless vaccine passports are used.

Masks will still be required on transport, since the Transportation Security Administration’s mask mandate – which applies to public transportation like airplanes and settings like airports – isn’t set to expire until September 13.

“For travel, we are asking people to continue wearing their masks,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during the press briefing on Thursday.