Local retailers try to keep up with shifting virus rules

Mask mandates are being dropped across the Lakeway Area as more and more businesses start to follow new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

“These signs point to a continuing recovery from the pandemic,” said Marshall Ramsey, president of the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s important for people to get vaccinated so businesses and their employees can continue to provide the goods and services our community needs.”

Locally, Walmart has taken down signs saying that masks should be worn due to local laws. Instead, there are now signs saying those who are fully vaccinated can now choose not to wear a mask.

Also, Home Depot has changed its mask policy, as well as CVS, and have dropped mask requirements for fully vaccinated customers.

The CDC changed its COVID-19 indoor mask recommendations last week and major retailers began responding.

Based on recently completed, real-world studies demonstrating that vaccination prevents the spread of the virus, the CDC’s new guidelines allow for fully vaccinated adults to remove their masks indoors.

Another major grocer within the Lakeway Area, Food City, announced Monday that their policy would be changing. Effective Thursday, fully vaccinated customers and employees can choose to wear a mask.

“Associates who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as defined by the CDC will no longer be required to wear a face mask, unless required by state or local laws,” said the statement. “Fully vaccinated associates will have a vaccination logo displayed on their name badge. Fully vaccinated customers are welcome to shop without their masks as well. You should continue to wear a mask if you have not been vaccinated or if you prefer to do so as a safety precaution. We will continue to encourage social distancing and provide hand sanitizer, cart wipes and enhanced cleaning procedures in all of our stores.”

Ingles, another major grocer in the area, has also had a mask mandate in place since July. No policy changes for the store chain had been released as of Tuesday.

Jefferson schools to end mask mandate May 21

Masks will be recommended and not required in Jefferson County schools during summer school, Shane Johnston, director of schools, said.

“Temeperature checks will not take place and masks will be recommended, rather than required, for summer learning camps and activities,” Johnston said in a statement. “Health and safety protocols will be reviewed over the summer and expectation for the 2021-2022 school year will be announced mid-July.”

Johnston said the mask mandate will end Friday, which is the last day of school for Jefferson County schools.

In the statement, he also said all student devices, including laptops and iPads should be turned in this week.

He also said on Friday, which is a half day, buses will be running and breakfast will be served at all campuses. Bus dismissal will start leaving Jefferson County High School at 10 a.m.