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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Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

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Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

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