Publix is returning to the requirement that employees wear masks — and it’s encouraging shoppers to wear them, too.
Publix’s new policy reverses course on a policy announced in mid-May that eased mask-wearing protocol for vaccinated individuals indoors.
The supermarket updated mask policies on its website Friday.
Starting Monday, Publix employees will be required to wear masks at work regardless of vaccination status.
“Effective August 2, Publix is requiring associates, regardless of their vaccination status, to wear face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside any Publix location. We encourage all to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19,” read the supermarket’s website.
Publix’s official mask policy listed on its website does not explicitly require customers to wear masks, but it does “encourage all to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The new policy also points to a recommendation made Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that urged even vaccinated people to return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging, like Florida.
According to the latest Department of Health Data, Florida had more than 17,000 new Coronavirus cases last week.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law in July that severely limits local governments from putting mask ordinances in place. However, a patchwork of local laws across the state has gone unchallenged.
In making its latest mask recommendation, the CDC cited new information about the ability of the delta variant to spread among vaccinated people.
Most new infections in the U.S. continue to be among unvaccinated people. But “breakthrough” infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people. When earlier strains of the virus predominated, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of virus and were deemed unlikely to spread the virus much, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
But with the delta variant, the level of virus in infected vaccinated people is “indistinguishable” from the level of virus in the noses and throats of unvaccinated people, Walensky said.
This story includes reporting from The Associated Press, republished with permission.