INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – As of Thursday, Kroger no longer needs fully vaccinated customers to wear a mask.
Now the union that represents workers in the company is pushing back change.
Fully vaccinated shoppers, along with most vaccinated employees, can now remove their masks at Kroger unless they work in the store’s pharmacies and clinics.
Unvaccinated people still have to wear a mask at Kroger.
Kroger is the largest supermarket chain in the U.S. and stores must also adhere to local mask mandates from a Department of Health or a government like Marion County.
Now the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union is warning that top retailers are ending mask requirements.
The group represents 1.3 million key food and retail employees, including Kroger employees.
UFCW urges the industry that most stores continue to need masks to keep buyers and workers safe.
The union said since March 1 that the death toll among food workers has increased by nearly 35% and the number of infected or COVID-19 exposed food workers has increased by nearly 30%.
The union’s president, Marc Perrone, said these key frontline workers had been forced to play pandemic police.
“America’s food workers are still exposed to daily frontline COVID risks so all of our families can put food on the table during the ongoing pandemic. These key frontline workers were forced to play masked police throughout the pandemic, and many buyers failed to adhere to COVID safety standards. Now they are being asked to be the vaccination police, ”said Perrone.
With the latest CDC guidelines that fully vaccinated people can remove their masks in most situations, more and more stores like Kroger are changing their mask guidelines.