The Reason Twitter Is Furious With Wegmans

On November 24, a reporter with the Auburn Citizen took to Twitter to address in a thread questions he kept on receiving about Wegmans violations of New York's mask mandate. Many readers had reached out to him because they'd seen customers in the supermarket flouting concerns of the virus' transmission. As smaller local businesses had been fined, the reporter sat down for a local council meeting in which Wegmans essentially refused to acknowledge that they did not enforce the order, stating via a lawyer that "[they] felt that they were not responsible for their customers."

The next day, he noticed Wegmans had updated their "Customer Face Covering Mandate" section on their website and posted a comparison shot for Twitter to see. They did not so much update their policy, however, as much as they further emphasized their attitude. "Short of refusing entrance to our stores, we are doing everything we can to educate our customers and stress the importance of voluntary compliance to keep themselves and everyone around them safe," Wegmans explained. 

If a customer approaches the store unmasked, an employee will offer them one for free. "Through ongoing monitoring, we continue to see 99% compliance with mask mandates from our customers," stated Wegmans (via Twitter). Missing from the statement, but present on their website, is an admission that while 100 percent would be ideal, they can't risk employee safety by asking unmasked people to wear masks.

Mask have been a controversial issue for Wegmans

At no point during the COVID-19 pandemic does it appear that Wegmans has taken the mask issue as seriously as they should. On April 2, the Democrat & Chronicle highlighted Wegmans' decision to allow their employees to wear masks — but masks would not be provided. They later buckled and began to provide masks to their employees, as WHAM reported. But Wegmans wasn't the worst in the industry. For example, The New York Times described how some Trader Joe's stores banned masks as they "frighten customers." 

However, while most stores got their act together, Wegmans held out against the general mask mandate as far back as April 17. Immediately after saying that they would comply with Governor Cuomo's Executive Order that stated all customers must wear face coverings, they told Spectrum News that they won't comply: "We will not put our people in the position of having to deny entry to our stores." 

Even as WHAM noted customers complaining about the mask situation in July, Wegmans held the line that short of refusing entrance to their stores, they couldn't do more, adding people with medical issues couldn't wear masks. Facing a similar issue, Costco now offers face shields to its customers. As Wegmans offers masks, they could also make this move, but we'll have to wait and see.