Some supermarkets are still struggling to figure out how to deal with customers who show up without masks or don’t wear them properly. The challenge c
Some supermarkets are still struggling to figure out how to deal with customers who show up without masks or don’t wear them properly.
The challenge comes almost a year into the pandemic, and after public-health authorities have repeatedly said masks are a critical tool in limiting the spread of the coronavirus. Translating that advice into stores has been challenging, grocers say, putting them in the uncomfortable position of policing customers and trying to defuse confrontations.
“You still have what I call boneheads that won’t wear masks,” said Steve Smith, chief executive of the Food City chain.
The company, which has stores across four Southern states, put safety managers at the front of the stores to encourage mask-wearing, but some customers have continued to push back, he said. “We’ve had every foul language told to us,” he added.
Grocers, including Kroger Co. and Albertsons Cos., require employees and customers to wear masks, and have added other safety measures such as plexiglass barriers in checkout aisles and signage reminding shoppers about social distancing. Some supermarkets also provide masks for customers at no charge, but they say issues persist in ensuring that customers wear masks and do so properly.