The surprising reason this supermarket chain isn't requiring masks

If, for whatever reason, you're still uncomfortable with the idea of wearing a face mask to go grocery shopping, there is still one supermarket chain you'll be able to shop in — at least if you live in the southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi and have a Winn-Dixie nearby.

While other major grocery chains like Costco and Whole Foods began requiring customers to wear masks back in May, as well as Walmart and Winn-Dixie competitor Publix, which announced mask policies last week, Winn-Dixie will not be following suit. Essentially, they're hoping to avoid some of the issues that have cropped up at many of these stores between customers and staff, such as the well-publicized event that took place in May at a Costco between a customer who refused to wear a mask and the employee who was enforcing the company's rules. 

Winn-Dixie's parent company, Southeastern Grocers, officially says it won't require its customers to wear face coverings in order to head off any problems between customers and staff. "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," a company statement sent to Today said. 

Winn-Dixie's COVID-19 response

Winn-Dixie hasn't completely ignored the pandemic or how contagious the coronavirus can be (via Winn-Dixie). On its website and as part of its statement on the pandemic, it says: "At Southeastern Groceries we choose to be a People First company, and our commitment to putting people at the heart of every decision we make remains in the best and worst of times. We continue to do all we can to provide the safest and healthiest experience that we can for you, our customers, our communities and our associates." It's also installed plexiglass partitions and added social distancing markers to try and keep the disease from spreading.

There are those that support Winn-Dixie's move to make masks an option, and they took to Twitter to express their gratitude: "Thank you #WinnDixie for offering adults a place to shop without wearing a mask! This is America! We should have freedom! I have a medical condition that prevents me from wearing a mask."

But not everyone seemed thrilled by Winn-Dixie's decision to ignore the CDC's firm call for Americans to wear face masks to prevent COVID from spreading further. One Twitter user said: "Good for you #WinnDixie for providing a place where the anti maskers can shop. Now they can stop having temper tantrums in stores that do require a mask."

Only time can tell whether Winn-Dixie's decision to move away from the consensus on face masks proves to be the right one.