I went to Walmart without a mask on the first day restrictions lifted, and I felt safe but self-conscious

Walmart lifts mask mandates
  • The CDC says masks are no longer required indoors for vaccinated people.
  • I visited Walmart on the first day of relaxed mask rules in New York.
  • Going inside without a mask felt strange, but not unsafe.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The Centers for Disease Control released new guidelines in May saying that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors.

Walmart after mask mandate lifted NY

Source: Insider

Some states had already lifted mask requirements, and many others followed after the latest release from the CDC. New Jersey is the only state that will continue to require masks for vaccinated people in most settings.

Walmart after mask mandate lifted NY

Businesses also updated their own individual guidelines. Walmart, Costco, Starbucks, and other retailers said that fully vaccinated customers won’t need masks unless required by local guidelines.

Walmart after mask mandate lifted NY

New York state, where I live, lifted mask requirements on May 19.

Walmart lifts mask restrictions

For the first time in over a year, I walked inside a public building without wearing a mask or any other face covering.

Walmart lifts mask restrictions

It felt so strange, almost like being naked in public.

Walmart lifts mask restrictions

As I walked past the greeter, who was wearing a mask, I momentarily worried that he was going to chastise me or not let me enter.

Walmart lifts mask mandates

The only noticeable difference between today and last week was that signs noting mask requirements were removed from the entrance.

Walmart lifts mask restrictions

At least 90% of the people I saw during my shopping trip were masked up. Some even wore two masks.

Walmart lifts mask restrictions

I felt like some other masked customers gave me a second glance or confused look, but it could also be that I was self-conscious for my first mask-less outing in a year.

Walmart lifts mask mandates

Walmart says that fully vaccinated workers don’t need to wear masks either, though every single employee I saw was masked up.

Walmart lifts mask restrictions

Source: Insider

I’m so grateful to be fully vaccinated and I felt completely safe going maskless.

Walmart lifts mask mandates

The discomfort for me was more about what other people would think about me.

Walmart after mask mandate lifted NY

Of course, I know I’m fully vaccinated, but I don’t want other people to think that I’m being selfish, especially workers who have to be there and interact with hundreds of strangers each day.

Walmart after mask mandate lifted NY

While I was in the store, I heard several announcements about vaccine availability and walk-in visits. I think it’s likely that many of the other shoppers were vaccinated.

Walmart lifts mask mandates

Just like wearing masks took some getting used to, so will not wearing them. I expect to see fewer people wearing masks in about a week.

Walmart after mask mandate lifted NY

It’s also worth noting that I went the first morning restrictions lifted. As a reporter, I spend hours tuned into news coverage, but the average shopper stopping to grab a few things might not have seen what date the new rules went into effect.

Walmart lifts mask mandates

I’ll continue going maskless where it is safe to do so (most places besides public transportation), but I think I’ll carry a mask in my bag forever, just in case.

Walmart lifts mask mandates

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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