No masks required starting June 2: What Dane County’s decision means for grocery shopping

MADISON, Wis. — To mask… or not? The rules are changing, and the answer will likely depend on where you choose to shop.

Starting June 2, for the first time in more than a year, there will be no new health order guiding everyday life in Dane County.

“We’re pretty good at this,” Brandon Scholz, President of the Wisconsin Grocers Association, explained. “Grocers are pretty good at being flexible.”

Once Dane County’s current requirement expires, vaccinated people will be free to shop unmasked inside many grocery stores. But not everywhere.

Scholz says he’s already observing differing policies at different grocery stores.

“It ranges from leaving everything in place: sneeze guards, masks, and social distancing, to probably the far end of the spectrum,” he said.

Walmart, Costco, and HyVee have all dropped their mask requirements nationally and spokespeople for all three chains say that when Dane’s current order expires, that will be local policy, too. Some local grocers, like 4th-generation owner Tim Metcalfe, are still weighing their options.

“I’ve been through a lot of things during my career in the grocery business,” said Metcalfe, of the Madison-based Metcalfe’s Market. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this in my lifetime.”

Metcalfe says he has been consulting with an independently-contracted infectious disease expert throughout the pandemic, as well as following the science, the CDC, and OSHA.

He adds that while he won’t have someone stationed at the door asking to see their vaccination cards, his employees will likely have to show theirs before working without masks.

“There was a beginning, there is a middle, and there is an end,” he added. “I think we’re at the end or getting very close to it.”

Whichever grocery store you choose, it’s a good idea to call ahead or check online for the most updated guidelines before you walk in unmasked. Remember: Stores must follow county rules. But once those expire, they are able to implement their own.