To mask or not to mask, that remains the question, but some retailers are making it easy to figure out.

When New Hampshire's mask mandate expired on April 16, Gov. Chris Sununu left it up to retailers and restaurants to set their own policy about requiring masks to be worn at their business.

That became less clear on Thursday when leaders at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared that all individuals who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 no longer need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors.

The CDC guidance states that masks do not need to be worn "except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance."

The guidelines are murkier as to determining if someone is vaccinated or not.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills announced on Friday the state would follow the CDC guidelines. Physical distancing requirements were also lifted.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the state's mask mandate would remain in effect pending an announcement next week.

National retailers Costco, Trader Joe's and Walmart, all with locations around the Seacoast, announced Friday they are ending their mask requirements.

  • Costco said that in locations without a state or local mask mandate they will follow the CDC policy and allow fully vaccinated individuals to enter without a face covering. Store personnel will not ask for proof of vaccination and asked for "members’ responsible and respectful cooperation." Face coverings will still be required in healthcare settings, including the pharmacy, optical and hearing aid areas. Locations where state or local mandates are still in effect would continue to abide by them.
  • Trader Joe's also announced it was dropping its mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers and would not require proof of vaccination, according to USA Today, which reported all employees will still need to wear a mask. The chain removed its COVID-19 page from its website.
  • Walmart will follow the CDC guidance as well and will request non-vaccinated customers wear a mask. Fully vaccinated employees will be able to stop wearing a mask on the job on Tuesday and will be offered a $75 bonus to take the shot if they haven't yet. Unvaccinated employees are expected to honestly answer the question during their daily health assessment. State and local guidelines will also be followed where they are in effect.
  • Starbucks is making face coverings optional for vaccinated customers starting Monday unless local regulations require them.

Regional chains Market Basket, Shaw's and Hannaford did not list any changes to their policies on their respective websites as of Saturday morning.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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