Kroger Co. said Wednesday that it will continue to require shoppers to wear masks at its stores in Texas and Mississippi. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he is lifting the mask mandate, effective March 10, despite calls from scientists and other politicians that people should still wear a face covering to guard against the spread of COVID-19. Coronavirus has killed more than 42,000 Texans. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves also made an announcement lifting the mask mandate on Tuesday. “The Kroger Family of Companies’ most urgent priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been 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,” a Kroger spokesperson said in a statement. Kroger chains include the namesake grocer, Ralphs and King Soopers. “To ensure the continued safety of our customers and associates, The Kroger Family of Companies will continue to require everyone in our stores across the country to wear masks until all our frontline grocery associates can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We also continue to advocate to federal, state and local officials to prioritize frontline grocery workers for the vaccine rollout plan, and we will offer a $100 one-time payment to associates who receive the recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.” Kroger is also encouraging social distancing and its contactless and low-touch transaction options. Kroger stock has gained 11.3% over the last year while the S&P 500 index is up 28.3% for the period.Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.
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