Winn-Dixie Says Its Not Requiring Face Masks to Avoid ‘Undue Friction’

July 19, 2020 Updated: July 19, 2020

Florida-based supermarket chain Winn-Dixie said it will not be requiring customers to wear masks inside stores in an attempt to avoid potential conflicts with people who aren’t wearing them.

The chain said it is strongly encouraging employees and associates to wear face coverings in the midst of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.

The company’s parent firm, Southeastern Grocers, won’t mandate the masks because it doesn’t want to “cause undue friction between our customers and associates by regulating mask mandates,” director of corporate communications Joe Caldwell told Fox13 in a statement.

“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,” Caldwell said, while noting that the company would strongly encourage state government officials to “lead the way” for the mandates.

Last week, Publix, a competitor to Winn-Dixie, said it will require people to use face coverings starting on Tuesday, July 21. Other national retailers such as Best Buy, Target, Starbucks, CVS, and Walmart have made similar mandates.

The largest grocery chain in the United States, Kroger, also said earlier this month that customers will have to wear masks, effective next week.

Both Publix and Winn-Dixie operate a number of stores in Florida, which has seen a surge in cases of the CCP virus, which emerged in mainland China last year, over the past several weeks.

“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,” Caldwell added.

Publix, in a statement last week, reiterated the importance of social distancing in its stores.

“Beginning July 21, customers are required to use face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside any Publix store. This new mandate is encouraged by the CDC for most individuals. Thank you for doing your part to limit the spread of COVID-19,” the company also said.

Last week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) chief Dr. Robert Redfield said in the statement that people should consider wearing masks in public.

“Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus—particularly when used universally within a community setting … All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities,” he said.