Some local grocery stores now requiring customers to wear masks in order to shop

Posted at 5:28 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 23:03:07-04

If you’re heading to the grocery store anytime soon, you may want to make sure you have a mask on hand as some stores are now adding requirements for not just employees but customers as well.

You must have a face covering in order to shop at Vons.

Added measures like this are not actually required by San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara counties, but both health departments say private businesses are allowed to mandate them when customers are frequenting their stores or refuse service.

Now while some shoppers are applauding the move, others question how it's enforceable when masks are so hard to get.

"They require you to wear a mask but in most stores, they're all out of stock. So it's really hard to get masks to be able to wear in the stores," said Vons shopper Cecile Armitage.

Some Vons customers KSBY spoke to say they're happy the store is taking such bold steps.

"I think they should enforce it a little bit more - maybe they oughta have people standing by the front door and only letting people in that door," said shopper Don Rowley.

"It'll help protect the workers and other people who are shopping in the store. I think it's a wise idea at this point," shopper Maria Eyels said.

Several other grocery stores across the Central Coast are stepping up personal protection for employees at their locations but are not requiring customers to do the same at this time.

Starting Monday, Whole Foods Market is now requiring staff to wear masks at all its locations and the company is providing personal face shields for employees as well.

A spokesperson for the company tells KSBY:

These actions – combined with our previously implemented safety measures including social distancing, crowd control, and temperature screenings for in-store workers – will help protect our team members and prime now shoppers who continue to provide critical services in our communities.

California Fresh Market says it has provided its staff cloth face coverings that are required to be worn at all times. The company is now limiting the amount of customers that can be in the store at one time to ensure everyone has enough open space to follow the social distancing guidelines while shopping.

Only 50 customers are allowed at once at the California Fresh location in San Luis Obispo and El Rancho in Solvang. Seventy-five customers are allowed at once at the company's Pismo Beach location.

KSBY reached out Vons and its parent company Albertsons and are still waiting to hear back.

All of the businesses KSBY contacted, including Ralph's and Food 4 Less, say they are continuing to follow state and local guidelines, which currently recommend wearing a mask in public when you cannot maintain social distancing.

It's important to note not all masks are made the same. The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department says wearing a cloth face covering may not protect you from getting COVID-19, but if used correctly, wearing a cloth face covering may provide some additional protection.

Only health care workers, some first responders, and those who are sick are recommended to use medical-grade PPE, such as surgical masks or N95 face masks.