Publix, other grocers and retailers to require customer face coverings beginning next week

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Lakeland-based Publix, the supermarket giant, is mandating face coverings for shoppers and workers at every one of the company’s 1,252 stores around the U.S. beginning next Tuesday, company leaders said in a press release.

“It can’t hurt. It can’t hurt,” said Linda Miller, a Tampa resident and Publix shopper. “And if it helps, so be it. We need to get rid of this virus. And if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.”

Miller visited Publix and other retailers in South Tampa’s Britton Plaza Friday morning. She had a mask on as she went into the various stores.

“I think if everybody would wear a mask, the virus levels would come down,” she said.

Leaders at national chains likely agree with that sentiment.

8 On Your Side learned companies like Walmart, Sam’s Club, CVS, Walgreens and Target will begin enforcing their own mask mandates next week or the first week of August.

“For some people, it’s annoying for sure, like people who are wearing it all day long for their job,” Samantha Awad, a Publix shopper, said to 8 On Your Side. “That’s definitely frustrating. For now, I guess it’s the simplest thing we can do to help everyone out.”

The new rules come as coronavirus cases surge in dozens of states, Florida included, stats show.

Hillsborough County has had a controversial countywide mandate in place for weeks, which says customers must wear masks inside businesses or face fines.

At the onset of the pandemic, Publix outfitted its stores with plexiglass partitions and signage urging social distancing.

“It’s good to help your neighbors out. Treat people how you want to be treated,” Awad said.

On Walmart’s website, the retail giant wrote:

As the number of confirmed cases has spiked in communities across the country recently, so too have the number and types of face-covering mandates being implemented. Currently, about 65 percent of our more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings. To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face-covering starting Monday, July 20. This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols.

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