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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Giant Eagle Strongly Recommending Customers Wear Masks Again

a photo of customers at a Giant Eagle grocery store
Lisa Ryan
Ideastream Public Media]
On Wednesday, all Giant Eagle employees will have to wear face coverings again. And beginning Friday Aug. 6, 2021, Giant Eagle will start strongly recommending customers do the same.

As COVID-19 spread is increasing, Giant Eagle this week will start asking customers to wear masks again and requiring all employees wear masks, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status.

The Pennsylvania-based grocery store chain announced in a statement that starting Wednesday, all team members will need to wear face coverings, even if they’re vaccinated.

And on Friday, Giant Eagle will strongly suggest customers wear masks when they enter the store. Employees will provide masks for people who don’t have one.

Customers will not be turned away if they don’t wear a mask.

Lisa Ryan
Ideastream Public Media
Currently, Giant Eagle is only recommending unvaccinated customers wear masks. But on Friday, that guidance will change to strongly recommend everyone wear masks. Masks will be provided if a customer doesn't have one.

Pat Butts, a Giant Eagle customer on Cleveland's west side, agreed with the policy. She wore a mask as she loaded her groceries into her car. 

"I have no issue with that," she said. "I think they did the mask away too soon. I've been wearing mine all the time."

Butts is vaccinated, but she still worries that she could become infected or spread the virus. She hopes more businesses follow Giant Eagle's lead. 

Another customer, Ivan Mathis, who said he is vaccinated, disagrees. 

"I might have to quit shopping at Giant Eagle because I feel trapped in that mask," he said. "I know COVID is serious, but I hate the mask."

The Centers for Disease Control has moved Cuyahoga and many surrounding counties into the substantial spread category, meaning you should wear a mask indoors, whether or not you are vaccinated.

A mutation of COVID-19, the delta variant, is more contagious than the original virus, and recent studies show people who are vaccinated can transmit the virus.

Other local grocery stores have not yet announced any changes to their mask policies. At Dave's Markets, Marc's, Lucky's Market and Heinen's Grocery Stores, employees and customers who are unvaccinated do not have to wear masks. An employee at Dave's said they do not check whether an employee is vaccinated, unlike Heinen's, which said they do check to make sure employees are vaccinated before they can stop wearing masks. 

Copyright 2021 WCPN. To see more, visit WCPN.

Lisa Ryan is a health reporter at Ideastream Public Media.