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Businesses weigh asking customers to put masks back on in light of new CDC guidelines. 'For most people, this is a huge step backward'

Lauren Zumbach, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

The retailer is also doubling its incentive for workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine to $150.

Macy’s said it is reviewing the CDC’s updates to its guidance and local regulations but has not changed its policy, which does not require vaccinated employees and customers wear masks. J.C. Penney also does not require fully vaccinated adults wear masks in stores, except where required by local regulations.

Life Time, which has 11 Illinois athletic clubs, said it has not made any changes to its mask policy, which recommends unvaccinated members wear masks indoors.

Apple is requiring all customers wear masks in more than half of its U.S. stores, though vaccinated customers do not need to wear masks in Chicago.

Landmark Theatres only requires all theatergoers wear masks in areas where local ordinances require it, said Margot Gerber, vice president of marketing and publicity. So far, that only applies to its Los Angeles and St. Louis theaters.

Keeping policies in line with local rules is the best way to avoid potential conflicts over masks, Gerber said.

“When you go against what’s happening in a city, that’s where people start to feel they can’t live a certain way,” she said.

A manager in Los Angeles said things have gone smoothly since the mandatory mask policy was reinstated about a week ago, and even when theatergoers had to be reminded about the change, they generally complied quickly.

 

Gangolli, meanwhile, said his grocery store’s stricter mask policy has angered some customers, though masks are provided free to anyone spending at least $5.

“For most people, this is a huge step backward,” he said. “They want the freedom of going around without masks.”

Other stores, especially those catering to kids who can’t yet get vaccinated, never felt comfortable dropping mask requirements.

At Kido, a kids’ toy and clothing shop in Chicago's South Loop, most customers haven’t questioned the mandatory mask policy, though it got “a little tedious” to enforce when the state mandate lifted, said owner Keewa Nurullah.

Customers got used to going maskless while out and about and were more likely to forget them at places like Kido, even if they weren’t opposed to wearing one, she said.

“If it’s a rule for everyone, I’m not the bad guy, it’s what everyone’s supposed to do,” she said.

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