INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Starting on Thursday, Kroger will no longer require fully vaccinated customers to wear a mask.
Now, the union that represents workers at the company is pushing back on the change.
Fully vaccinated shoppers can now remove their masks at Kroger, along with most vaccinated employees, unless they work in the store’s pharmacies and clinics.
Unvaccinated people are still required to wear a mask at Kroger.
Kroger is the largest supermarket chain in the US and said stores must also follow local mask mandates issued by a health department or government, such as Marion County.
Now, the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) is cautioning against top retailers ending mask requirements.
The group represents 1.3 million essential food and retail workers, including staff at Kroger.
UFCW is asking the industry to have a majority of stores still require masks to keep both shoppers and workers safe.
The union said since March 1, there’s been a nearly 35% increase in grocery worker deaths and a nearly 30% increase in grocery workers infected or exposed to COVID-19.
The president of the union, Marc Perrone, said these essential frontline workers have been forced to play pandemic police.
“America’s grocery workers are still facing daily COVID risks on the frontlines so that all our families can put food on the table as the pandemic continues. These essential frontline workers have been forced to play mask police throughout the pandemic with many shoppers not following COVID safety standards. Now, they are being asked to be the vaccination police,” said Perrone.
With the latest CDC guidelines saying fully vaccinated people can take off their masks in most situations, more stores such as Kroger are changing their mask policies.