Why doesn’t Wegmans ask people to mask? Concern for their employees’ safety

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monday morning we received complaints from viewers about people not wearing masks inside their Wegmans. So News10NBC brought those questions to Colleen Wegman, the CEO of the company.

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "If someone comes into one of your stores not wearing a mask, how do you handle that?"

Colleen Wegman, CEO Wegmans: "Well, let me say this, it’s very very rare to see anyone without a mask today and we are so appreciative of that. The reason we’re here today is to ask everyone to please continue to wear masks. And since the day this pandemic started the safety of our people has been our number one priority and that cannot change. And unfortunately, in today’s world, if we were to ask our people to approach an unmasked person that could be unsafe for them. So that’s not something I can ask our people to do."

The National Associations of Grocery Stores and the National Retail Federation (NRF) told me they don’t have data on the number of employees injured in mask conflicts, but the NRF produced a training course on how to deal with angry customers during COVID.

"I saw a lot of unmasked customers," said Holly Clough, a Perinton Wegmans customer.

Clough was one of the customers who called us Monday concerned about what she saw in the grocery store over the weekend.
When asked why the store wasn’t enforcing the mask rule, Clough said the manager told her what Colleen Wegman told us — employees could get hurt.

"I then said but you’re employees could get sick," Clough said. "Wegmans is a big company, they have a lot of money, they can hire someone at the door to politely ask to mask up and provide a mask like they do at Walmart and maybe some other stores."

"I went grocery shopping this past weekend and it was 99% of the people wearing a mask," Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said.

At the news conference to announce a new campaign to get people vaccinated, boosted and wearing a mask, Bello cautioned people not to believe the negativity they see on social media.

"Well I have news, social media is not real. Facebook is not the real world. Twitter is not the real world," he said. "Walking into Wegmans and seeing 99% of the customers wearing a mask? That’s the real world."

The state health department says every instance of a person not wearing a mask at an indoor public setting, could bring a fine of up to $1,000.

The state wants the counties to enforce that and is allocating $65 million to help counties do that.

So far, we have not seen evidence of enforcement in Monroe County.