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Local Residents Confused By Mixed Message On COVID-19 Mask Requirements

GREENBRAE (CBS SF) -- The sudden shift by the federal health officials allowing vaccinated people for the most part to go maskless indoors and out has caught many San Francisco Bay Area residents by surprise.

Many retailers are shifting to maskless options for customers. Trader Joe's has announced it's not requiring customers to wear masks inside, unless local regulations still require masks.

For many other businesses, it's a wait and see approach, as local counties still haven't adopted the new federal guidelines.

Rocket Reuse in Alameda is keeping its policy because of local requirements and not sure what the coming months will look like.

"We're always erring on the side of caution," said owner Katherine Hoffert. "We need to wait for everyone to be vaccinated so that it's safe for all shoppers."

Whether or not to shed the mask indoors is becoming tricky as Starbucks starting Monday will allow vaccinated customers to go maskless in regions that have loosened mandates.

"Yeah I'd go in tomorrow without the mask," said Orange County resident Michael Kennedy. "That's what the vaccine is. That's the benefit."

"Out of habit I'm still going in with the mask," said Alameda resident Michelle Berkovich.

Other major retailers and small businesses are still deciding what to do.

"The most important thing businesses can do right now is to insure for their own employees to get vaccinated," said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky.

The head of the CDC has come under criticism for suddenly shifting its indoor guidelines, leaving states and local counties now scrambling to update their own.

"We are asking people to be honest with themselves," Walensky said. "If they are vaccinated and not wearing a mask they are safe."

"I like the idea and think it's a good idea that they're trying to calm everyone down," said Alameda resident Leaka Vaysberg.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday the state is considering whether to adopt the new federal guidelines, but nothing official has been announced yet. Local counties in the Bay Area say they are still waiting for more guidance to come from the state.

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