This guide will be continually updated as we learn more from store representatives and community members. To share your shopping experiences, email email@example.com.
Beginning Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott is allowing businesses to determine whether they’ll require customers and employees to wear masks. Here are the policies from grocery stores in Dallas-Fort Worth, listed alphabetically.
Grocery Stores Requiring Masks
ALDI requires all employees and customers to wear a face covering. “For the health and well-being of the communities we serve and for the protection of our employees, we will maintain our current nationwide policy,” an ALDI representative confirmed to D on March 4. “We will continue to assess any new guidelines issued by the CDC, and will keep our customers informed of any future changes.”
Central Market / H-E-B
Though several Texas news outlets have reported that H-E-B and Central Market will encourage, but not require, its customers to wear face coverings, a company representative sent a March 5 press release to confirm to D that “mask use at our stores will remain.” Signs requiring mask use will stay at store entrances, and face coverings are provided for customers who need them.
“H-E-B has always been a strong proponent and advocate of mask use even before mandates and orders were passed,” says the press release. “Throughout the pandemic, we are thankful that we’ve seen strong compliance… But we need the help of all Texans to ensure compliance continues. The ending of mask ordinances puts real pressure on retailers to enforce an emotional topic for many. We ask for kindness and understanding from our customers in our expectation of them to wear masks in our stores.”
Central Market’s other safety protocols, like proper hand washing, plexiglass partitions, sanitization, and social distancing, remain in place.
When asked about current regulations, a Costco representative directed us to a statement by Craig Jelinek, President and CEO, from November 2020.
“Effective November 16, entry to Costco will only be granted to those wearing a face mask or face shield,” said Jelinek. Costco has had a face mask policy in effect since last May, but shoppers who could not wear a mask due to a medical condition were exempt. As of November, they’re no longer exempt and must wear a face shield to enter. “This updated policy may seem inconvenient to some,” continued Jelinek. “However, we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience. Our goal is to continue to provide a safe shopping environment for our members and guests, and to provide a safe work environment for our employees.”
Costco will still offer priority access to frontline workers, including healthcare workers, first responders, police officers, EMTs, and firefighters. These shoppers can move to the front of the line by showing an employee I.D. and Costco membership card. Customers with disabilities, those who are immunocompromised, or those who are 60 or older will still have access to special operating hours from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday.
The Kroger Family of Companies will continue to require face coverings for both shoppers and staff. A company representative issued a statement that its priority is to “provide a safe environment for our associates and customers while meeting our societal obligation to provide open stores, e-commerce solutions, and an efficiently operating supply chain so that our communities have access to fresh food.” The representative said that The Kroger Family of Companies will continue to require masks nationwide “until all our frontline grocery associates can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Sprouts stores will maintain its face covering requirement in all locations, a company representative confirmed. All shoppers older than 2 must comply. The policy is communicated at store entrances, and masks are provided to those without them.
“Although we encourage our guests to wear face coverings in accordance with CDC recommendations, we are also allowing face shields in our stores,” says Sprouts on its website.
Shoppers who are medically unable to wear a face covering or face shield can contact their local store to arrange a personal shopper. The grocery chain also offers free curbside pickup.
Sprouts promotes social distancing via floor markers at register lines and plexiglass register barriers. Store managers also regulate the number of shoppers inside to prevent overcrowding.
At Target stores in North Texas, customers must wear masks or face coverings while shopping, a Target representative confirmed on March 4. Guests with underlying medical conditions and young children are exempt, but those who have been vaccinated still need to comply. Social distancing measures are still in place.
Target provides disposable masks at all store entrances to guests who do not have one. Signs, overhead audio, and team members will frequently remind guests to keep their masks on.
For those who don’t want to wear a mask, Target encourages no-contact fulfillment options like Drive-Up, Target.com, and Shipt.
Tom Thumb: Face Coverings Required
When the mask mandate was first lifted, Tom Thumb’s parent company Albertsons announced that its Texas stores would no longer require customers to wear masks, WFAA reported on March 3. Last Friday, however, Albertsons reversed this decision. Face coverings are still required for both shoppers and staff at Tom Thumb and other Albertsons-owned chains like Safeway and Randalls. “While we know that mask requirements have been controversial and polarizing across some of our operating areas, we also know that masks in combination with social distancing and proper cleaning and sanitization can work to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Albertsons in a press statement on March 5. “Although the State mandate will be lifted effective March 10, 2021, our front-line associates have not had full access to the vaccine. Subsequently, our stores and facilities in Texas will continue to require masks for associates, vendors, and customers regardless of the mask mandate being lifted.”
Trader Joe’s: Face Coverings Required
On March 5, Trader Joe’s updated its corporate website to confirm that masks are still required in all nationwide stores. “Based on conversations with Crew Members across the country, we will continue to require all customers to wear masks while shopping in our stores,” said Trader Joe’s. “As we have done previously, any customer with a disability that precludes them from wearing a mask will be accommodated. Young children are encouraged but not required to wear masks in our stores. Our Crew Members wear masks approximately 8 hours a day and we ask our customers to wear them for the short time they shop with us.” Trader Joe’s has been among the most stringent grocery chains in terms of safety precautions during the pandemic. The Lovers Lane and Knox Street locations have each been incredibly diligent in limiting capacity and maintaining socially distant lines at entrances and registers.
Grocery Stores With Unclear Policies
Walmart / Sam’s Club: Face Coverings Required, As Of November 2020
Walmart did not respond to requests for comment and has not released any press updates, though the Dallas Morning News reported on March 2 that the company’s nationwide COVID-19 policies remain in place. In November 2020, Walmart’s corporate division assured customers that its commitment to safety is “as strong now as it was when the pandemic began.” At that time, the 5,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores nationwide were requiring masks, enforcing social distancing, maintaining heightened cleaning standards, and appointing staff as “Health Ambassadors” to remind customers about safety standards as they enter the store. Walmart also offers grocery pickup, with the first pickup hour of the day reserved for customers over 60, first responders, customers with disabilities, and anyone else who is high-risk. To confirm that these policies are still in place at your local Walmart or Sam’s Club, call before shopping.
Whole Foods: Face Coverings Required, As Of July 2020
Whole Foods did not respond to requests for comment and has not released any press updates. The Whole Foods website stated in July 2020 that face coverings are mandatory while shopping; however, the policy also mentions that “stores will continue to follow local ordinances regarding personal protective equipment.” To confirm the policies at your local Whole Foods, call before shopping. In our experiences, most Whole Foods locations in Dallas have been proactive at limiting capacity and requiring masks.