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Misleading: Southern Stores Don't Require Masks

Tracy Davenport Tracy Davenport
4th January 2021
Misleading: Southern Stores Don't Require Masks
38 states have face mask requirements for public spaces (Getty Images).

The Claim

Grocery stores in the southern U.S. don’t require face masks. 

Emerging story

On November 22, 2020, someone posted a meme that implied that most people do not wear masks in the grocery stores in the southern part of the U.S. The post was then liked over 400,000 times and continues to be shared today.

Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar has discovered that 38 states in the U.S. have face mask requirements for public spaces according to AARP.com. States that do not have statewide face mask requirements in place include: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee. However, within these states there are some counties, especially where COVID-19 rates are higher that do have face mask requirements in place. 

There are also mask mandates by different retailers. Winn-Dixie, whose parent company is Southeastern Grocers, was one of the last holdouts to require masks, but beginning July 27, 2020, it required customers to wear masks while shopping according to the Tampa Bay Times. Publix required face masks at all of its locations starting July 21. Walmart began requiring all shoppers to wear a face covering starting on July 20, 2020 according to Walmart.com. Aldi and Food City encourages but does not mandate the use of masks according to Knoxnews.com

However, in states where there are no statewide mask mandates, and grocery stores are privately owned, then masks may not be required to shop. For example, in Knox County, Tennessee, face coverings are required in indoor public spaces per a Knox County Health Department mandate, but some stores are enforcing mask-wearing more than others. 

Since the requirement to wear face masks in grocery stores in the south varies from region to region and also from retailer to retailer, the claim is misleading. 

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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