After saying it didn't want to get involved in the issue on Sunday, Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie, changed its mind and joined several other major retailers and, starting next week, will require customers to cover their mouths and noses before entering its 550 stores in seven states, including Florida.
"At Southeastern Grocers, we put people at the center of each and every decision we make for our stores," wrote Joe Caldwell, Director of Corporate Communications and Government Affairs for Southeastern Grocers. "Our decisions have always been shaped by listening to our people and our communities.
As we have navigated through the complexities and challenges of the pandemic, we have progressively shaped our operations and are continuing to update our policies to best protect all those who depend upon us. This unprecedented period requires a willingness to be adaptable and flexible to ever-changing circumstances, and we will continue to adjust as needed over time.
The majority of our stores are under either a local or state government mandate, and given the continued rise of positive COVID cases in our communities across the Southeast, beginning Monday, July 27, we will be requiring masks to be worn by customers to help reduce the spread of the disease. Our communities count on us, and we are counting on our customers to show kindness as we go through these challenging times together.
We believe that the enforcement should be placed upon our state and federally elected officials, and we will continue to work with our peers in the retail industry to advocate for this sensible mandate to be passed into law to remove the burden from employers and their heroic frontline associates."
On Sunday, Southeastern Grocers released a statement which recommended, but did not require face coverings in its stores.
"Currently, 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. We do not want to cause undue friction between our customers and associates by regulating mask mandates, and we strongly encourage state officials to lead the way in regulating these type of safety mandates."