Jacksonville-area businesses figuring out what’s next after new CDC guidance on masks

Local business and restaurant establishments now adapting to new CDC guidelines.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One day after the CDC’s major update that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors, local businesses are figuring out what to do next.

Friday was the first day many people were ditching the mask, but businesses are still considering if they want to keep mandates in place.

“We started to reevaluate even before the announcement yesterday, mainly as we were at a point where our staff has been fully vaccinated,” said Kelly Pickard, Owner of Alewife in Jacksonville’s Riverside neighborhood.

The tasting room has four employees all of whom have gotten the shot, Pickard too.

But, she said, she’s keeping the mask on for now.

“It’s still a comfort level, a respect level. I mean, this is a pretty quick announcement. I don’t think people were necessarily expecting it,” she Pickard said.

She said she wants her customers to feel comfortable.

So does Altha Outlaw who manages Boger’s Shoes in Five Points.

“Right now, we’re going to continue to wear our masks. We like our customers to feel confident and safe,” Outlaw said, adding she won’t enforce customer mask-wearing but does encourage it.

Most businesses News4Jax checked with Friday said they’re either re-evaluating or keeping the requirement in place, but ditching any kind of enforcement.

Dr. Jonathan Kantor, an epidemiologist, had a reminder for everyone who has received a vaccination.

“You absolutely could still get infected afterwards,” he said. “It really dramatically reduces the changes of you getting really sick, you needing to be hospitalized, you needing to go to the intensive care unit.”

For big chain stores like Walmart, Aldi, and Target, employees say the decisions on mask requirements come from the corporate office which they said has not given updated directions yet.

Publix announced Friday night that it will no longer require fully vaccinated customers or employees to wear a face covering. Walmart announced it too would be doing the same.

A spokesperson for Southeastern Grocers, the company that owns Winn-Dixie and Harveys supermarkets, released a statement saying:

“We are currently reviewing our store safety protocols and will share more details as soon as they are finalized. We ask our customers for their patience and flexibility as we continue to safeguard the health and well-being of our communities.”

Several places said they are planning to post signs asking people who haven’t been vaccinated to wear a mask and then leaving it up to them whether to follow it or not.

About the Authors:

At WJXT for a quarter of a century, Mary Baer anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news weekdays.