Publix will mandate that associates wear face coverings indoors regardless of whether they have been vaccinated. The grocery chain's policy will take effect on Monday.
The company pointed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is recommending that fully vaccinated individuals wear a mask when in indoor public places in regions of the country where there is substantial or high transmission.
"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) updated guidance recommends that individuals in areas of substantial or high transmission risk wear face coverings over their noses and mouths when in public, indoor spaces," Publix communications director Maria Brous said in a statement, according to The Hill.
"Effective Aug. 2, Publix is requiring associates, regardless of their vaccination status, to wear face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside any Publix location, and we encourage all to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19," the statement said.
The company will still "encourage, but not require, our associates to get vaccinated," Brous said, according to The Hill.
Publix's website indicates that the company has more than 1,200 stores located throughout the southeast in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
According to the CDC, 57.9 percent of the U.S. population ages 12 and up have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 while 67.1 percent of that population demographic has received at least one dose.
The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines both involve two shots while Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine involves just one shot.
In the U.S., the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized to be used in people ages 12 and older while the other vaccines are only available to those 18 and up.
So far in the U.S. there have been more than 34.7 million COVID-19 cases and more than 612,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.