Walmart reimposes mask requirements for employees in high-risk areas, and will recommend shoppers wear masks at certain stores

Walmart worker mask
Walmart will require employees in ‘areas of substantial or high transmission’ to wear masks. Yang Yi/China News Service via Getty Images
  • Walmart is updating its mask rules for in-store workers.
  • The new update follows the CDC’s new recommendations for fully-vaccinated individuals.
  • People living in areas with spiking Delta variant cases are encouraged to mask up indoors.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Walmart is updating its mask policies for store workers, as the COVID-19 Delta variant sends cases of the virus spiking in certain areas of the United States.

The retailer will now require masks for workers “inside our facilities in areas of substantial or high transmission.” The decision will take effect immediately.

The new rules for the world’s largest retailer keep the company in compliance with new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and could spur other companies to adopt similar changes.

On July 27, the CDC updated their recommendations for fully-vaccinated individuals. Now, the organization recommends that vaccinated individuals “wear a mask in public indoor settings” if they live in an area with “substantial or high transmission” of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Fully-vaccinated individuals can still spread the Delta variant of the virus. A leaked CDC presentation recently described the Delta variant as being “as contagious as chicken pox.”

Though vaccinated individuals are contracting the Delta variant, symptoms are most often mild or non-existent. Non-vaccianted individuals, however, comprise the majority of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the University of California Davis Health.

In a memo sent out to “field associates,” Chief People Officer Donna Morris and EVP of Health and Wellnesss Dr. Cheryl Pegus wrote that the rules will not apply to all stores.

“Managers will refer to the CDC site for updates relevant to their county each Monday,” they wrote in the memo. “Customers are strongly encouraged to wear masks, but not required.”