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Giant Eagle Reinstates Mask Policy For Staff, 'Strongly' Encouraged For Shoppers

Virginia Alvino Young
90.5 WESA
Giant Eagle on the South Side.

Amid rising concern over a resurgence in coronavirus infections driven by the delta variant, Giant Eagle will reinstitute mask requirements for its staff this week — and will begin “strongly requesting” shoppers to wear them as well.

According to a statement issued late Monday evening, workers will be required to wear a face mask, cloth face covering or face shield starting on Wednesday, Aug. 4. Workers will begin urging customers to wear them on Friday, Aug. 6, and the company said, “We will have Team Members ready at each of our stores to provide a complimentary mask for any guest who does not have one when they visit with us.”

“The introduction of the Delta variant has created a renewed sense of urgency across our communities,” the grocer said, citing data that suggests the variant is more contagious and thus makes even “vaccinated individuals more prone to transmitting the virus and leaving those unvaccinated at higher risk of illness and hospitalization. … Through these and other efforts, we can all do our part to keep our communities healthy, our local businesses thriving and our students and teachers in the best possible position for the upcoming school year.”

The company said it was also reviewing a potential vaccine requirement for all its employees, as well as educating them about vaccination.

The move, by one of the region’s best-known retailers, suggests how the delta variant has redrawn battle lines in the fight against a disease that the region seemed to be moving past. The number of new cases discovered within Allegheny County has vaulted to more than 100 a day — a month ago it was closer to 10 a day.

Nor is Giant Eagle the only local institution rethinking its approach: Earlier in the day on Monday, Carnegie Mellon University announced that it was reimposing its own mask requirement effective August 15. On Tuesday afternoon, PPG Paints Arena announced that it would also recommend mask-wearing during this evening's James Taylor concert, as well as other upcoming shows.

*This story was updated on Tuesday, Aug. 3 at 3:40 p.m.

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.