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Kroger reimposes universal mask mandate on all workers

The mandate applies regardless of vaccination status. Customers are “strongly encouraged” to wear masks.
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 4:53 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - Kroger said Wednesday it is requiring its workers – again – to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to our media partners at the Enquirer.

The tightening of safety requirements comes months after they were relaxed following an easing of the pandemic. A national resurgence of cases, driven by the highly infectious delta variant of the novel coronavirus, has intensified debate on whether mask mandates should be reimposed.

Kroger said the new rule went into effect on Sept. 10 but does not apply to its customers.

“We are now requiring all associates and contractors to wear a mask when in our stores, offices, and other facilities regardless of vaccination status,” Kroger said in a statement. “We continue to strongly encourage customers to wear masks to protect themselves and others, and to curb the spread of COVID-19.”

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A sign announcing Kroger’s policy at a store in Delhi Township in suburban Cincinnati said the new mask requirement applies to “unvaccinated visitors.”

[We have reached out for clarification on what the sign means. We will update this story if Kroger responds.]

Kroger officials said they began relaxing their previous mask mandate in spring as various states lifted restrictions as the spread of the pandemic appeared to ease.

Ohio lifted its mask mandate on June 2.

The company said it would comply with state and local mandates by health officials.

Besides Kroger stores, the grocer operates several regional supermarket chains in 35 states, including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, Ralphs, Mariano’s, Fry’s, Smith’s, King Soopers, QFC and others. The company employs 465,000 workers.

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