Publix supermarkets will stop requiring face masks for fully vaccinated customer and employees starting Saturday, the company announced in a news release.
The move comes as a result of the recently updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, the company said, which eases mask-wearing protocol for vaccinated individuals indoors. Publix has also announced that it will once again resume serving free cookies to kids after putting the service on hold in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
The updated mask rule will apply to all stores “unless required by a state or local order or ordinance.”
However, the grocery store chain is insisting that individuals who are not fully vaccinated are still required to use face coverings while inside any Publix store.
The Florida supermarket giant joins other retailers like Costco, Walmart and Trader Joe’s in easing their mask policy. Other national retailers like Winn-Dixie, CVS and Target have, for now, decided to keep mandatory mask policies in place.
The Sunshine State is quickly approaching the landmark of 9.5 million individuals who have received at least one shot of the vaccine. So far, about 7.4 million have been fully vaccinated.
The lifted mask policy for vaccinated individuals will likely rely on a system of trust, following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on “vaccine passports” — a term used in reference to institutions verifying vaccination status. Entities that require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine could get slapped with a $5,000 fine for each affected customer or student.
“You have a right to participate in society — go to a restaurant, movie, a ballgame, all these things — without having to divulge this type of information. And oh, by the way, you give that to big companies, they are going to absolutely try to monetize that. So, we didn’t want to go down that road,” DeSantis said when signing the new proposal into law in early May.
However, the new laws still allow businesses to make their own rules regarding masks, temperature checks or other protocols.