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Grocers wait for San Diego County guidance before ditching mask requirements

Posted at 5:16 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 20:58:10-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says Americans can ditch masks in most settings if they choose, as long as they are fully vaccinated. However, state and local jurisdictions still have a say in their own guidelines.

“I think there will be some confusion until the state can clear it up,” said Ron Fong, president & CEO of the California Grocers Association, which represents chains like Costco, Ralphs, Whole Food, and Albertsons as well as California’s smaller independent grocers. He said they are waiting on more precise guidelines before making changes in the state.

“We’ve been in a pretty good cadence now where employees and customers alike know that they need to wear a mask inside a grocery store, so we’re hoping that they follow that protocol until it is more widely known what the state and local guidelines are,” he said.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has not updated its guidance to match the CDC’s latest recommendations but said, “We are reviewing the CDC guidance and will share updates accordingly.”

A spokesperson for San Diego County tells ABC 10News, “San Diego awaits further guidance from CDPH on any change or loosening of mask requirements.”

Friday, Trader Joe’s announced fully vaccinated customers will no longer have to wear masks in its stores. Walmart and Costco said customers could start shopping without masks in U.S. locations where there are no state or local mask mandates.

Todd Walters is the president of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Local 135, representing about 13,000 employees from different business sectors in San Diego County, said while going maskless sounds exciting, protecting employees should still be a top priority.

“I think the proper elected officials need to get input on all the different levels on this to set some clear rules that can be followed and enforced,” he explained.

Adam Zack, the owner of Jensen’s Foods in Point Loma, tells us, while the CDC’s update is a great strep to normalcy, he is patiently waiting before removing mask requirements and hopes customers will go by the honor code making things easier on his staff.

“We’re very, very excited. We’re waiting for the county and the state to issue a little more guidance before we proceed,” said Zack. “People are still wearing masks, we have had a lot of people ask about it, and we’re telling them it’s kind of unfolding every day just to be patient.”