Walmart mask rule complicates Gov. DeSantis messaging

DeSantis said retail showed schools could open.

Gov. Ron DeSantis urged Florida educators and parents to consider retail as a model for reopening schools. One retailer, meanwhile, is tightening its precautions as COVID-19 persists.

“I’m confident if you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, if you can do these things, we absolutely can do the schools. I want our kids to be able to minimize this education gap that I think has developed,” the Governor said at a press availability earlier this month.

Critics of DeSantis’ statement noted a vast difference between the occasional trip to a big box store and spending several hours a day, five days a week in school rooms, many of which are in antiquated buildings with HVAC systems that are suspect at best, especially in Florida’s major cities.

With Wal-Mart announcing Wednesday its decision to issue a nationwide mask mandate for its stores beginning next week, going beyond the political will of DeSantis himself, the Governor’s insouciant metaphor encounters a unique challenge.

While many (65%, says Talking Points Memo) of the chain’s 5,000 stores are in areas with mask requirements, those local rules often should come with asterisks. Many are selectively enforced, or not enforced at all, in Florida and other places.

The corporate decision to take a chain-wide stand may lead to stauncher enforcement, with the greeters perhaps taking on a more critical security role.

Local reports from around the country suggest numerous data points that drove the policy change.

A Las Cruces, New Mexico storefront was shut down for testing, reports the local Fox 14. Stores in Michigan, Ohio, and other heartland locales likewise are dealing with the impact.

DeSantis has struggled to message his belief that schools should open in a full-scale way.

He made an unannounced drop-in to the Board of Education meeting Wednesday, attempting to put a happy face on the order that has roiled and confused various local school boards.

Days ago, the Governor recounted that he even had to convince his wife, were their children school-aged, to let them go back into brick and mortar buildings in August.

“My own wife, our kids aren’t school-aged yet, I tell her that they’re at zero risk, I’d have no problem putting them in, and I think that convinced her. She said she would do it too.”

The Governor, meanwhile, has not always complied with local mask ordinances himself, standing without a mask on indoors in Miami-Dade and Jacksonville in recent days.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Bryan J Smith

    July 15, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    Not following. Private entities can do what they want. I’m really confused as of late how many people are not differentiating public from private, or think we need public policy to back private decisions. Kinda scares me how people think we need government to define everything.

    • DisplacedCTYankee

      July 15, 2020 at 3:29 pm

      Dear Trump and Gov DeMAGA:

      When you lose Walmart you have lost America.

      • Sonja Fitch

        July 15, 2020 at 4:24 pm

        Lol lol Wal-Mart just told you to stfu duffus Desantis ! Wear a mask! Or be a mASkHOLE!

Comments are closed.


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