Can you Shop at SoCal Trader Joe's Without a Mask? 'We've Gotten Some Mixed Information.'

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

Can you Shop at SoCal Trader Joe's Without a Mask? 'We've Gotten Some Mixed Information.'

Can you wheel your shopping cart into a Los Angeles Trader Joe's maskless? A confusing patchwork of rules has left customers and store employees scrambling.

"We've gotten some mixed information," one Trader Joe's employee in Santa Monica said by phone Friday afternoon.

Another said customers are now free to shop inside without a mask.

A day after the CDC lifted mask requirements for fully vaccinated people, the quirky Monrovia-based grocery chain known for Hawaiian shirts and kitschy labelling announced that inoculated customers can shop without a face covering.

But Los Angeles County officials said Thursday that businesses are still required to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing.

Costco and Sam's Club are also lifting mask restrictions, CNN reported.

Precisely how California workplaces handle the issue of masks will be up for debate on May 20, when California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, Cal/OSHA, is set to review proposed changes to its safety standards. The county cannot introduce less restrictive mandates than the state, said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer on Thursday.

Trader Joe's released the statement Friday on its COVID-19 page, which was a broken link by the afternoon. Spokesperson Kenya Friend-Daniel confirmed the news, adding that the grocer will not require customers to flash their vaccine cards.

"We do not require proof of vaccination, as we trust our customers to follow CDC guidelines," she wrote in a statement. "At this time, masks are still required for our crew members."

The question of how stores and venues plan to weed out unvaccinated people remains murky across the country. Whether businesses implement vaccine "passport" scanning or rely on an honor code system remains to be seen.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents 1.3 million workers in the U.S., called the CDC's recent guidance "confusing" and that it fails to consider how essential workers will be impacted by customers who are unvaccinated and refuse to wear masks.

Meanwhile, California officials are set to lift most pandemic restrictions on June 15.

L.A. County Department of Public Health did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Target as a retailer no longer requiring customers to wear face coverings while shopping.

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Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors
Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash

The Inflation Reduction Act contains almost $400 billion in funding for clean energy initiatives. There’s $250 billion for energy projects. $23 billion for transportation and EVs. $46 billion for environment. $21 billion for agriculture, and so on. With so much cash flowing into the sector, the possibilities for investment and growth are gigantic.

These investment opportunities, however, have typically been inaccessible for everyday retail investors until much later in a company’s development–after an IPO, usually. Meaning that the best returns are likely to be captured by banks and other institutions who have the capital and financing to invest large sums of money earlier in the process.

That’s where Pasadena-based Energy Shares comes in. The company wants to help democratize access to these investment opportunities and simultaneously give early-stage utility-scale energy projects another revenue stream.

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Why These Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Are Making LA Their Home

Aisha Counts
Aisha Counts is a business reporter covering the technology industry. She has written extensively about tech giants, emerging technologies, startups and venture capital. Before becoming a journalist she spent several years as a management consultant at Ernst & Young.
Why These Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Are Making LA Their Home
Joey Mota

Fleeing war and chasing new opportunities, more than a dozen Ukrainian entrepreneurs have landed in Los Angeles, finding an unexpected community in the city of dreams. These entrepreneurs have started companies that are collectively worth more than $300 million, in industries ranging from electric vehicle charging stations to audience monetization platforms to social networks.

Dot.LA spent an evening with this group of Ukrainian citizens, learning what it was like to build startups in Ukraine, to cope with the unimaginable fear of fleeing war, and to garner the resilience to rebuild.

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