Target to require masks for workers in areas with ‘substantial’ COVID-19 transmission

Target will require team members working in "areas with substantial or high risk of transmission, as defined by the CDC" to wear face coverings beginning on Aug. 3, according to a press release from the retailer.

"Substantial" and "high risk" are two tiers on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s four-tier system that measures the level of community transmission by county. 

The level of transmission is determined by the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people and the positivity rate over the past seven days, according to the CDC. The transmission rate demonstrates how much risk unvaccinated and vaccinated people are of contracting the virus.

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The CDC’s risk map shows low transmission counties in blue, moderate in yellow, substantial in orange and high transmission counties in red.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Target has recommended face coverings for unvaccinated employees and guests at all stores in the United States, the company said in its press release.

Starting on Tuesday, Target said it will require face coverings for employees and strongly recommends face coverings for all guests — both vaccinated and unvaccinated — in areas with substantial or high risk of COVID-19 transmission.


Target will once again require employees to wear face coverings.

In the statement, Target said, "We’ll follow all local mandates, as we have throughout the pandemic, and continue to monitor guidance from the CDC closely."

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Target promised to maintain its health and safety protocols, including cleaning and social distancing. In its announcement, the retail giant encouraged all employees and guests to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nearly all CVS Pharmacies located in Target locations offer the COVID-19 vaccine. Target also provides paid time off and free Lyft rides to team members when they get their vaccines. 

Target is just one major retailer re-implementing mask requirements and recommendations for workers and shoppers. 

RELATED: Walmart mandates masks for all workers in areas with high infection rates

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer and private employer, is reversing its mask policy and will require all its workers including vaccinated ones in areas with high infection rates to wear masks.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said it is also encouraging customers to wear masks in those stores in areas with high infection rates and will be adding back signs at the entrances, according to a memo supplied by Walmart that was sent to its employees on Friday. It will also bring back so-called health ambassadors who will be positioned at the entrances and hand out masks.

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The move came three days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling infection surges.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.