Although Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his Mississippi counterpart Tate Reeves have announced the COVID-related mask mandates in their respective states are coming to an end, Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) has informed shoppers in both states that they will not be able to enter their supermarkets without a mask.
What Happened: Abbott and Reeves became the first governors to bring their pandemic-related edicts on business operations to a conclusion, with each citing the rollout of the COVID vaccines as playing a key role in their decisions.
Abbott insisted Texas’ state government “must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100%” while Reeves said mask mandates and other state-enforced restrictions “have to end at the earliest possible moment.”
Kroger, however, is viewing the situation through a different spectrum. Citing its corporate responsibility of providing “a safe environment for our associates and customers while meeting our societal obligation to provide open stores, e-commerce solutions and an efficiently operating supply chain,” the Cincinnati-based company insisted customers must be masked when they enter a Kroger store.
“To ensure the continued safety of our customers and associates, The Kroger Family of Companies will continue to require everyone in our stores across the country to wear masks until all our frontline grocery associates can receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” the company said in a statement, adding it was paying its associates $100 when they receive the recommended vaccine doses.
What’s Next: It/s unclear if either Texas or Mississippi will have special enforcements against businesses that require the continued wearing of masks on their premises.
Kroger did not specifically mention the announcements by Abbott and Reeves when it issued its statement, but the timing of its release made the reference point obvious.
Likewise, U.S. President Joe Biden avoided mentioning Texas and Mississippi by name but clearly expressed displeasure at the states’ actions during a White House event Tuesday highlighting the release of the Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) vaccine.
“Though we celebrate the news of a third vaccine, I urge all Americans, please keep washing your hands, stay socially distanced, wear masks,” he said. “Keep wearing them, get vaccinated when it’s your turn. Now is not the time to let up.”
Photo courtesy Virginia Retail / Flickr.
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