Even though the coronavirus pandemic remains a problem in the United States, one grocery chain will not require customers to wear masks while indoors. According to Fox 13 News, Winn-Dixie will not require people to wear a mask when heading into one of their stores. This news comes as many other retail chains, including Target, Walmart, and CVS, are following guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by requiring patrons to wear masks.
The outlet reported that Winn-Dixie is strongly encouraging its employees and associates to wear face masks. But, that is not the case when it comes to those visiting their stores. The parent company of Winn-Dixie, Southeastern Grocers, will not require patrons to wear masks in their stores because they do not want to "cause undue friction between our customers and associates by regulating mask mandates," as Joe Caldwell, the director of corporate communications told Fox 13 News. Caldwell added, "We are adhering to all local safety mandates within each of our stores and strongly encouraging those who are medically able to wear a face covering to do so." He went on to say that they are strongly encouraging state and local government officials to "lead the way" when it comes to the use of face masks in public.
While this decision will likely lead to some backlash, Caldwell continued to note that the company is listening to their community amidst this coronavirus pandemic. "We are always listening to our communities, and as the number of COVID cases rise, we are actively evaluating our policies so that every reasonable precaution is made to protect the health and safety of our people and our customers," he said. Winn-Dixie may not require customers to wear masks while in their stores, but other retail and grocery chains are. Days before Winn-Dixie explained their decision, Walmart announced that they would be making it mandatory to wear masks while in their stores nationwide. They said that this policy would go into effect starting on Monday, July 20.
On its official website, Walmart shared that they would be implementing this policy with the safety of their communities in mind. "While we’re certainly not the first business to require face coverings, we know this is a simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities," their statement read. "According to the CDC, face coverings help decrease the spread of COVID-19, and because the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected, it’s critically important for everyone to wear a face covering in public and social distance."