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South Florida Shoppers Have Mixed Reaction As Some Stores Relax Mask Mandates

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Several major retailers have relaxed their mask mandates in the wake of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's latest guidance.

On Thursday, the CDC said fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask in most settings, except where required by state and local laws. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine.

Since then Publix, Winn-Dixie, Costco, Trader Joe's, Walmart, and Sam's Club, among others, have announced that fully vaccinated customers do not have to wear masks as long as there are no local mask requirements.

"If it is not required, I don't mind," said Yahima Fuentes.

Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Más, and Harveys Supermarket, said in a statement that they will "fully vaccinated customers and associates to shop and work in our stores without masks (subject to local government restrictions). However, in keeping with CDC guidelines, we will continue to require those not fully vaccinated to wear face coverings while in our stores."

An updated statement on the Publix website reads, "In accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated individuals inside Publix stores unless required by a state or local order or ordinance. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated are required to use face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside any Publix store."

Publix also said employees who are fully vaccinated will not be required to wear a mask.

Walmart executives sent a letter to Walmart and Sam's Club stores as well as supply chain facilities encouraging employees to get vaccinated. The letter stated as of Friday, "vaccinated customers and members are welcome to shop without a mask," while unvaccinated shoppers are asked to keep wearing masks in stores.

Employees who are fully vaccinated will be permitted to work without masks starting May 18, the letter said, adding that some workers may have to continue to wear masks for health or sanitation reasons.

The stores will not be asking customers or employees if they have been vaccinated, it will be on the honor system.

Some shoppers told CBS4 they did not support the new relaxation of the rules.

"I think it just too soon. I think that we need to take time to go back to normality. I won't take my mask off even though I did vaccinate," said Ana Maria Correa-Cardenas.

"It requires a little bit too much of the honor system for people to be vaccinated. We haven't reached a critical threshold yet so I think it's a little too soon and we should be waiting a little bit more until we have more vaccinated people to get herd immunity officially," said Victoria Enjamio.

Still, those like Fuentes support the new freedom that comes with not being required to wear a mask

"As long as you have social distancing, of course, you wash your hand,s and your immune system is okay. I'm fine not wearing any mask," she said.

But not all stores are following suit. Stores like Target, Home Depot, CVS, and Walgreens will continue to require customers to wear a face covering while in their stores.

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