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Kroger updates mask policy to 'strongly encourage' all customers to wear masks

"Based on the CDC’s science-based guidance and the input of our associates, we are updating our mask policy in a way that balances our values of safety and respect."

INDIANAPOLIS — Kroger is the latest in a list of major retailers that have updated their face mask policies after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made changes to its masking guidance due to increasing concern over the delta variant of COVID-19.

Kroger is now strongly encouraging all people inside its stores to wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status. This is a shift from the company's previous guidance which only asked customers who were unvaccinated to wear a mask. 

"Based on the CDC’s science-based guidance and the input of our associates, we are updating our mask policy in a way that balances our values of safety and respect," Kroger said in a statement. "We strongly encourage all individuals, including those who are vaccinated, to wear a mask when in our stores and facilities."

The decision follows the CDC backpedaling some of its masking recommendations as the delta variant of the coronavirus becomes a cause for concern. The CDC is now recommending that even vaccinated people mask up indoors in counties where COVID-19 transmission levels are considered high or substantial.  

RELATED: CDC document warns delta variant appears to be as contagious as chickenpox

RELATED: CDC reverses course on indoor masks in parts of US where COVID is surging

Kroger already requires unvaccinated employees to wear masks and the company said it will continue to offer its employees a $100 one-time payment for getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Kroger is not alone in updating its mask policies. Target on Monday announced it will once again require masks for employees and "strongly recommend" them for shoppers in some areas where COVID-19 is surging. 

RELATED: Target to require masks for employees in areas at higher COVID-19 risk

Similarly, Walmart and Sam's Club reversed their mask policies. Walmart is requiring its workers, including those who are vaccinated, to wear masks in areas with high COVID-19 infection rates. 

RELATED: Walmart updates mask policy for stores in COVID hot spots

The company is also doubling the incentive for workers in stores, clubs, transportation, distribution center and fulfillment centers to get the vaccine for $150. Those who already received the $75 incentive will receive another $75 in their paycheck dated Aug 19.