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This Popular Southern Grocery Chain Won't Require You to Wear a Mask

Winn-Dixie doesn't want to cause "undue friction" among shoppers.

Given the wealth of scientific evidence touting the safety benefits of wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19, scores of major grocery store chains have started rolling out much stricter face-covering policies for its shoppers across the country. Last week, Walmart announced that they would be requiring all shoppers to wear a mask in its stores starting today. Shortly after that announcement, a raft of other grocery and retail chains followed suit. But there's at least one popular regional grocery store that is refusing to make masks mandatory: Winn-Dixie.

Representatives for the Jacksonville, Florida-based grocery chain recently announced that Winn-Dixie shoppers would be encouraged to wear face masks rather than required. In a statement obtained by the local, Tampa-based news station WTSP, the grocer's parent company said: "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."

As for why it's not requiring face coverings in its stores, the reps had this to say: "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."

The decision has since been met with no shortage of backlash.

Meanwhile, others applauded the decision.

As those tweets show, face mask-wearing has become a hotly debated political issue of late. Given that Winn-Dixie's roughly 500 locations are confined to Southeastern states, one obvious conclusion here is that the company didn't want to risk alienating customers. But health experts are likely to bemoan the decision, as many of those states—Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana—are also states where the coronavirus continues to rise dramatically.

According the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI), practically all of the states where Winn-Dixie operates have COVID-19 numbers so alarming that they're potentially on track for a "full shutdown."

To be clear: the CDC has made abundantly clear that the single best way to stop the spread of the COVID-19 contagion is for everyone to wear masks, especially in the high-risk environment such as a grocery store. So if you're shopping Winn-Dixie, please know that donning a mask is strongly encouraged. But if you're not comfortable shopping a grocery store without clear face-mask rules, know that these 11 Major Grocery Chains Will Require You to Wear a Face Mask.



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