In a surprising development, the CDC declared that it is possible for people who have been completely inoculated against COVID-19 to leave their masks at home in certain situations. Giving the option to wear a mask or not.
We revised our advice for people who have been completely vaccinated for the following reasons:
1st. #COVID19 The number of cases has decreased
2. Inventive+ phrasing. Vaccines are inexpensive and readily available
3. If you’re looking for a. In real-world trials, vaccines are 90-95% successful
a. Vaccines are effective in combating variations
a. Those that have been completely vaccinated are less prone to spread the infection https://t.co/Ri5KvWfRxh
— @CDCDirector Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH May 14, 2021
While some people were ecstatic to hear the news, others were less so and spoke about the uncertainties that come with such an announcement. Above all, the new mask policy raises a difficult question for many businesses: should they mask up or not? While retailers such as Costco and Trader Joe’s customers and employees are afraid that people would lie about their vaccination status because they don’t trust shoppers to follow the CDC’s rules. Making use of Sprout Social’s Advanced Listening to learn more about how companies and customers are reacting to the new mask rules, we studied over 208,000 tweets from April 24 to May 26, 2021.
In a post-mask world, businesses seek guidance
Since the country went into lockdown, masks have become a feature of the online dialogue. On May 14, when the CDC director appeared on Good Morning America to announce the latest mask guidelines, the rate of discussion skyrocketed. By the 15th of May, retailers such as Publix and Starbuck‘s regulations have been revised to accommodate the federal ruling.
Different states are providing their own guidelines of whether to wear a mask or not to complement the CDC’s declaration, further complicating matters. To access a company without a mask in Oregon, completely inoculated persons would need to show evidence of vaccination.
If businesses no longer wish to require masks or physical separation, they must have a policy in place to check vaccination status. https://t.co/YELAC1goGU
Central Oregon Daily News (@CODaily) is a Twitter account for the Central Oregon Daily News May 18, 2021
Meanwhile, officials in California have demanded that people continue to wear masks before companies and staff have had enough time to prepare for the CDC’s new guidelines.
Beginning June 15, Californians who have been completely vaccinated against COVID-19 would no longer be required to wear masks in certain indoor environments, according to authorities. This is the same day that the state’s economy is expected to restart.
The Los Angeles Times (@latimes) contributed to this article May 17, 2021
The CDC’s statement was greeted with mixed reactions, with the majority of tweets regarding of the confusion to wear a mask or not being negative (45% negative, 32% positive, and 23% neutral). The abruptness of the announcement, as well as concerns about state guidelines, has caused some companies to be unsure of which recommendations to obey.
Should you wear a mask indoors if you’ve been vaccinated? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and several companies, such as, #TraderJoes #Walmart You can tell that you don’t have to. However, we are also waiting for formal state guidelines, which has caused some shoppers to get puzzled @ABC7 https://t.co/ryfjIXueuX
Josh Haskell (@abc7JoshHaskell) is a reporter for ABC News May 15, 2021
Some workers are concerned about how easily shoppers are able to walk around without masks.
Let’s talk about the stress that supermarket and grocery store workers are experiencing. “Are you afraid my covid would get to you?” a customer asked me today” when retaining their mask and not allowing it to be properly worn. Then he says, “Oh, just wait until June 15th!”.”
— Vivianteresaa (@vivianteresaa) May 23, 2021
It’s also made staff angry and frustrated at the option to wear a mask or not, particularly because they don’t feel like they should ask customers to wear masks to protect the workers who haven’t been vaccinated yet. 56% of the 19,383 Tweets that mentioned employees and staff were negative, 32% were positive, and 12% were neutral.
People without masks openly stroll into my workplace (grocery store), and my boss is unable to intervene. Many employees have not even been vaccinated.
I’M EXTREMELY ANGRY ABOUT IT.#NotAJoke #Alberta #WearAMask #COVID19
Darci She/Them (@Zancett) (@Zancett) (@Zancett) (@Zancett) (@Zancett) (@Zancett) (@ May 16, 2021
Businesses should clearly communicate their in-store practices on social media and keep consumers up to date on the latest guidelines to wear a mask or not to better protect staff. After such measures are in effect, there must be agreement across all locations to follow them to ensure that they are faithfully followed.
A contentious topic among consumers to wear a mask or not
Almost everybody online had a view on the CDC’s move to remove mask bans, which came as no surprise to everyone. Some people saw the news as an excuse to flaunt their decision of to wear a mask or not, even though it meant leaving some people unhappy.
Simultaneously, several people claim they’ll keep masking up in shops until everyone has received a vaccine putting a end to the debate of whether to wear a mask or not.
I went to Target yesterday for the first time since New Mexico (and Target) removed the mask mandate, and everybody in the store was wearing masks anyway—employees and customers alike. YIKES.
I’m grateful to live in a country where common sense reigns supreme.
— Anna Dorfman (@doorsixteen) on Instagram May 24, 2021
Others shared satisfaction that shoppers were able to wear masks after the regulation reforms.
It’s been a week since Publix’s mask ban was removed. There is no longer a sign in front of the building. When I went to the supermarket today, though, everybody was still wearing masks! Customers and workers are both essential. I didn’t think I’d be the only one! It made me feel nice. I hope it lasts for a little longer.
— GiGicmka (@LauraMarlin) May 21, 2021
The conflict between the debate to wear a mask or not seems to be amplified in grocery stores, which earned 14,992 mentions. On May 21, tweets referencing groceries or grocery stores received a surge in traffic as people discussed if it should be left up to businesses to wear a mask or not indoors.
Whether you’re ready or not, the masks are coming off
As more citizens get vaccinated around the world, the demand for more lenient mask standards will grow louder. Now is the time for companies to determine what their in-store strategies will be and to ensure that they are followed consistently.
If you’re still unsure what to do, talk to your clients and staff to get a better idea of what decisions can make everyone feel safe and secure. It’s important that, in addition to meeting state and municipal regulations, you consider input from the customers who would be physically present in your shops. Once your in-store policies are in place, convey those changes to your audience ahead of time and create a social customer service plan to ensure prompt and consistent answers to any questions posed on social media.
Remember to keep an eye on the expectations of your local community while you plan your company for the next stage of the pandemic. For more information on what you’ll need in a post-COVID world, visit check out this article about how social listening platforms will help the company stay on top of quickly evolving mask guidelines.