COLUMBIA — Hy-Vee won’t turn away customers who don’t wear masks.
Hy-Vee launched the “Mask It Up to Shut COVID Down. It’s Your Choice” initiative on Tuesday. The major-grocer chain is handing out three million masks.
Major grocers like Walmart, Target and Schnucks all began requiring masks at their stores, but Hy-Vee decided to not follow their lead.
“We are one-hundred percent pro-masks,” Tina Potthoff, Senior Vice President of Communications for Hy-Vee, said.
Potthoff said Hy-Vee does not want to put their employees in a tough situation if a customer is against wearing a mask.
“People think that Hy-Vee is anti-mask and that is not the case at all,” Potthoff said. “We want people to wear a mask, we are pro-mask just like everyone else. It’s just in how we’re enforcing it. We’ve seen what’s happened on the news at other retail locations. Employees getting in fights and scuffles with various people because they’re asking personal questions and that’s not something we want to put our employees in harm’s way.”
Despite this, Hy-Vee is still following local ordinances if they are in place where the store is located. Columbia is one of four cities that Hy-Vee is requiring masks because of a mask ordinance.
The grocery-chain is requiring guests to wear masks in Illinois, Minnesota and Kansas. The other five midwest states where Hy-Vee is located do not have this requirement.
Recently, the health department charged three businesses in Columbia with violating their health order.
“I don’t foresee it to be a problem,” Potthoff said. “I’ve also spoken to stores in the area and they don’t foresee it to be a problem either.”
One local shopper said she just has to have to confidence in other shoppers.
“I can understand how [Hy-Vee] is in a bind because they don’t want people to stay away because of the masks but by the same token I believe that I have faith in America and most people are going to wear them,” Esther Baker said.
Baker said she shops at Hy-Vee every once in a while but the lack of requirement won’t deter him from coming to the business.
“As long as I’m wearing [my mask], if they don’t want to protect themselves that’s their problem not mine,” Baker said.
Baker said she’s in-favor for people wearing masks but she doesn’t think it had to get this far.
“I don’t think it should be a law,” Baker said. “I think if you have enough brains in your head, you’d it’s the right thing to do.”