Winn-Dixie was on the firing end of some controversy following their face mask policy. The grocery store chain did not enforce face coverings in its store despite the rising cases of COVID-19 across the country, particularly in the states that their locations are based between Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. That, though, was quickly reversed on Monday night as the store will now be enforcing its customers to cover their faces.
In a press release put out by Southeastern Grocers, which also handles three other chains in addition to Winn-Dixie, announced that beginning July 27, face masks would be required in all of its stores. Joe Caldwell, the Director, Corporate Communications and Government Affairs, explained that their decisions come from listening to its customers, “We put people at the center of each and every decision we make for our stores.” He went on to say that like everybody else, this pandemic has forced people to adapt and be flexible and the company will continue to change things as needed, adding that he would like to see the enforcement be placed on the shoulders of elected officials. Caldwell said they would continue “to advocate for this sensible mandate to be passed into law to remove the burden [of enforcement] from employers and their heroic frontline associates.”
The move by Winn-Dixie, which is joined by fellow Southeastern Grocers stores BI-LO and Harveys Supermarket, comes on the heels on many major retailers making similar announcements. The backlash on their lack of policy was amped as stores like Walmart, Target and CVS began to set systems in place to enforce face coverings to be worn by customers in all of its stores. Kroger also joined the pack, announcing all of its stores would be under that guidance beginning on July 22.
The push for face coverings to be worn everywhere comes as the country has seen a rise in positive COVID-19 cases. Florida, which does not have a face mask mandate in place by Gov. Ron DeSantis, has reported 10,000 or more cases over the past five days. The state also topped New York at its peak for the most positive daily cases last week, bringing in more than 15,000 cases in one 24-hour cycle. Georgia, like Florida, has also had its disputes over the use of face masks as Gov. Brian Kemp recently overruled Atlanta’s mayor, who had enforced the use of face coverings.