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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A growing list of large retailers has begun to ease mask requirements for fully vaccinated customers, after the CDC issued guidance last week saying vaccinated people can do most activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

Driving the news: Target and CVS Pharmacy on Monday were among the latest to update policies to allow fully vaccinated guests in their stores without face coverings, unless it is required by local law.

  • CVS will still require employees to wear masks while at work.

Worth noting: Target is also "providing paid time to U.S. hourly team members when they get their vaccines" as well as offering free Lyft rides, up to $15 each way, for their workers to drive to and from their vaccine appointments.

State of play: Face coverings will become optional for vaccinated Walmart employees starting Tuesday. The retailer, which was among the first to remove its mask requirement for customers, announced it will offer workers a $75 bonus if they show their completed vaccine cards to a store leader.

  • Walmart will let employees work without a mask if they answer “yes” to being inoculated during a daily health assessment, since "integrity" is one of their core values.

Some stores, including Gap, Home Depot, Walgreens, Ulta Beauty, Carl's Jr., Ikea, JCPenny and Apple still require masks, according to Business Insider.

  • Starbucks, Costco, Trader Joe’s and Publix have already removed their mask mandates, CNBC notes.

Go Deeper: How retailers are responding to the latest CDC guidance

Go deeper

Aug 24, 2021 - Health

Unvaccinated 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19, CDC study says

Nurses reposition a COVID patient in the ICU in Torrance, Calif. Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Infection and hospitalization rates in late July were five and 29 times higher, respectively, among unvaccinated people in Los Angeles County than the fully vaccinated, according to a new report out Tuesday from the CDC.

Why it matters: Hospitals and state health officials have been warning that the spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations is mostly attributed to unvaccinated adults.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas — Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements.
  3. Politics: Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19 — Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health."
  4. Economy: Report: World's 10 richest men doubled wealth during pandemicAmerica's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — French parliament passes COVID vaccine passport legislation.
  7. Variant tracker

Cruise lines step up pandemic protocols as Delta rages

The Carnival Cruise Line ship Mardi Gras departing from Port Canaveral, Florida, in July. Photo: Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Cruise lines are tightening pandemic protocols as the Delta variant of COVID-19 surges globally, with Carnival Cruise Line the latest to tighten vaccine requirements.

Why it matters: Cruise ships were a coronavirus epicenter early in the pandemic, and the CDC advised last Friday that people at increased risk of severe illness from the coronavirus should avoid traveling on cruises.