Harris Teeter will offer, but not force, masks for shoppers
Posted June 26, 2020 9:30 a.m. EDT
Updated June 26, 2020 8:16 p.m. EDT
The statewide mask requirement in effect as of June 26 in North Carolina includes grocery and retail stores. In anticipation of the new rule, shoppers have been asking stores, including Harris Teeter, if they plan to enforce the new requirement.
After a recent post on the Harris Teeter Facebook page, many WRAL Smart Shopper Facebook page readers reached out to me looking for some additional information about how Harris Teeter would be handling shoppers who refused to wear a mask.
Some shoppers were under the impression, after reading the post below, that the store would be defiantly refusing to enforce the new mask mandate. This is not the case, and Harris Teeter has released a statement clarifying their policy.
Here is the official Harris Teeter response from their corporate office regarding the enforcement of the new NC mask requirement.
"Harris Teeter’s number one priority since the beginning of COVID-19 has been to provide a safe shopping experience for both shoppers and our valued associates on the front-line. Our associates have been required to wear face coverings since April 21. We are committed to doing everything we can to comply with the face covering requirement without placing our valued associates in difficult situations. We ask our shoppers to follow the requirements and to be kind to our associates.
For those not in compliance, our policy is for a member of store management to approach the shopper to inform them of the Order and offer a free, disposable mask. If the individual declines, we must remember and understand that there are many exceptions outlined in the order, and our associates are not authorized nor qualified to ask an individual to present proof that they qualify for an exception."
As you can see, Harris Teeter is offering a free disposable mask to anyone who enters the store without one, which is more than many stores are doing. In addition, they make it clear that they understand some shoppers have medical conditions which may make it difficult to wear a mask.
It appears to me that Harris Teeter is simply following the rules outlined in the order including recognizing the allowed exceptions to the mask requirement. My guess is that most stores will do the same thing.
As a regular Harris Teeter shopper, I can say that employees in the Harris Teeter stores I have been to since this pandemic started have been wearing masks. That is just my personal experience and certainly may be different than others. In addition, the company has implemented multiple safety measures in stores, which can be seen on their website.
Based on the statement from Harris Teeter, as well as their willingness to give away masks to those who do not have one when they come in to the store and the recognition that some people are unable to wear a mask due to a legitimate medical issue, I will continue to shop at Harris Teeter. But, I will not be shopping at any store during the busy times when stores are crowded such as the weekends. I will also happily continue to wear my mask and hope that it offers at least some additional protection for other shoppers, employees and myself.
If you are concerned about shopping in stores during this time, which is certainly understandable, most grocery stores offer curbside pick-up or delivery, as well.