Gov. Ron DeSantis has refused to make face coverings mandatory amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped a slew of chain stores located in and around The Villages from taking the matter into their own hands.
Beginning Tuesday, Publix, the largest grocer in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown, will require its customers to wear masks while shopping. In a post on its company website, Publix said the mandate is encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control for most people and offered thanks to customers for doing their part to limit the spread of the virus.
Kohl’s, which is located at the Lady Lake Crossing, already was requiring its employees to wear masks and beginning Monday, customers must do the same – with the exception of those unable to wear face coverings for medical reasons.
“As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, face covering mandates have grown to apply to approximately 70% of our store base,” the company’s website states. “Therefore, we’ve made the decision to take a consistent approach across our entire store fleet.”
Target, in the Rolling Acres Plaza, and Best Buy, located nearby in Lady Lake, are following suit with mask policies. Best Buy’s new policy went into effect Wednesday and Target’s mask mandate begins Aug. 1, excluding young children and those with underlying medical conditions.
“This builds on the more than 80% of our stores that already require guests to wear face coverings due to local and state regulations,” Target said in a prepared statement, adding that stores will provide disposable masks for customers who don’t have them. “Given the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the role masks play in preventing the spread of the Coronavirus, our store team members also already wear masks when they come to work, which we provide for them.”
The new mandates are taking effect as the director of the CDC, Robert Redfield, is claiming that the COVID-19 surge could be controlled in 4-6 weeks if people were disciplined about wearing masks. Leesburg commissioners recently implemented a policy requiring masks in all city-owned buildings and the Marion County Commission is strongly encouraging residents to wear masks when they are out in public and can’t properly practice social distancing.
The move to require masks by the multitude of local stores also follows a similar decision made by Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Shoppers who live in The Villages offered a mixed reaction to that decision on Wednesday, with some saying they’d like to see more stores follow suit and others questioning the safety of wearing masks and suggesting the stores have no legal right to make such a requirement.