JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that everyone in Florida and people in most Georgia counties wear masks in indoor settings, regardless of their vaccination status.
Now, retail stores are beginning to review their mask policies for employees and customers. Many Northeast Florida grocery stores walked back their mask requirements for customers earlier this year, after the COVID-19 vaccine was first made widely available and the CDC eased its guidelines for face coverings for vaccinated individuals.
First Coast News reached out to several stores to inquire whether they would be re-implementing mask requirements now that the CDC is again recommending them for everyone indoors in high-transmission areas.
On Friday, a Publix spokesperson told First Coast News it will be requiring associates, regardless of their vaccination status, to begin wearing face masks while inside Publix stores beginning Aug. 2. The store encourages, but does not require, its associates to get vaccinated.
Masks are not required for customers.
The nation's largest retailer is reversing its mask policy, requiring all workers including those who are vaccinated in areas with high COVID-19 infection rates to wear masks inside its facilities.
The company says it is also encouraging customers to wear masks in those stores in areas with high infection rates and will be adding back signs at the entrances.
Southeastern Grocers, a Jacksonville-based company which owns Winn-Dixie, Harveys and Fresco y Mas, said it is encouraging, but not requiring, customers to wear masks in its stores.
Director of Public Relations and Community for Southeastern Grocers sent us the following statement:
"At Southeastern Grocers, we remain committed to caring for and supporting the communities we serve while following local, state and federal guidelines. With the rise in COVID-19 cases, we continue to encourage customers to practice social distancing and wear masks while shopping in our stores. We appreciate the flexibility, kindness and respect for other shoppers and our associates shown by our customers over the last year, and we ask for their continued cooperation as we work together to further safeguard our communities and slow down the spread of coronavirus."