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May 14, 2021
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Walmart and Sam's Club will no longer require customers or employees who are fully vaccinated to wear masks, the retailer announced Friday.

The change for shoppers is now in effect and will be on the honor system, Walmart confirmed to USA TODAY. It comes a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new masking guidelines.

The nation's largest retailer started requiring masks for customers in clubs and stores nationwide on July 20. Employees started wearing masks in April.

According to a memo sent to U.S. Walmart and Sam’s Club workers, employees who are vaccinated can start going to work mask-free beginning Tuesday and will be asked about vaccination status on a health assessment.

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"Beginning today, vaccinated customers and members are welcome to shop without a mask, and we will continue to request that non-vaccinated customers and members wear face coverings in our stores and clubs," the letter to employees said. "We will update the signage in our facilities to reflect this."

There are some exceptions to the updated policy, Walmart said, and masks "will also continue to be required by some city and state ordinances, and we will follow those requirements."

Walmart also said it is giving a $75 bonus "to U.S. field associates as a thank you for getting vaccinated." This applies to “field-based Walmart, Sam’s Club and Supply Chain associates, hourly and salaried, below the level of store manager.”

Employees will need to provide proof of vaccination to get the bonus, a process the company says begins Tuesday.

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Trader Joe's also announced Friday that shoppers who are vaccinated and can shop without a mask. Trader Joe's employees still need to wear masks at this time.

Costco dropped its mask policy at some of its clubs Friday, too, but will still require them at pharmacy and optical departments.

The CDC said Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans, for the most part, no longer need to wear masks indoors and don’t have to wear masks outdoors, even in crowded spaces.

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But privately-owned businesses can still require masks, which most of the nation's largest retailers started mandating last summer. There are other exceptions for when the CDC recommends masks such as in health care settings, transportation hubs such as airports and stations, planes and public transportation.

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Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko
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