Publix declined a request by Miami-Dade’s mayor to limit ice sales to one bag per customer, with a spokeswoman saying no restrictions existed for the coveted commodity in the Miami area.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Wednesday held an early afternoon press conference and asked a recovering grocery industry to limit ice sales to one bag per customer until Florida Power & Light can get electricity restored to more households. Grocery chains said they were slow in getting an official request from the county, but representatives of Sedano’s and Winn-Dixie said their stores enacted a one-bag limit.
But Nicole Maristany Krauss, a Publix spokeswoman in Miami, said Thursday the grocery chain was not restricting ice sales. “It’s not something we’re imposing at the store level,” Krauss said. She said the county notified Publix of Gimenez’s request for voluntary ice restrictions after 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, and that the company was not rejecting it as much as carrying on with its normal plans.
“We’re seeking to better understand what the purpose is” of the mayor’s request, Krauss said. “We want to be understanding of what the mayor is thinking.”
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An Gimenez spokesman had no immediate response to the Publix decision. On Wednesday, Gimenez said the restrictions would help more residents get ice amid a prolonged electrical outage.
“I think it’s only right that you start to limit it,” Gimenez said at an afternoon briefing Wednesday. “Unless they tell me they have sufficient ice for everybody in Miami-Dade County to have an unlimited supply, I think you need to limit it for a while. And then as more and more of our residents get their power back, then you can probably ease that restriction.”
Krauss said Publix was having trouble keeping up with the demand for ice, but that supplies are flowing in at a quickening pace.
“We’re getting ice and water delivery around the clock. I don’t think it’s been able to keep up with the demand,” she said. “It’s not so much that we’re not able to provide [ice]. It’s a matter of whether they are willing to wait for the next truck.”
The latest count from FPL Thursday shows 26 percent of the for-profit utility’s Miami-Dade customers are without power: 293,330 accounts are reported as suffering an outage, with 726,910 restored since Hurricane Irma began downing power lines. The utility says it expects almost all of its South Florida customers to be restored by Sunday.
Sedano’s has been giving away free ice at two locations and a spokeswoman said the chain is already limiting distribution to one bag per customer and would comply with Gimenez’s request once the company receives it. While supplies last, free ice is available at the Sedano’s in Homestead (831 NE Eighth Street, Homestead) and West Dade (14655 SW 56th St., Miami) while supplies last. Winn-Dixie also is limiting ice to one bag per customer, a spokeswoman said.
All three of the chains have been using generators to operate locations without electrical service in the days after Irma hit.
Gimenez said compliance with his ice request was voluntary. He also said Miami-Dade is distributing ice to senior-citizen complexes and other areas where residents don’t have the ability to get supplies themselves.
“We will be starting to provide ice for those who really need it and can’t get it,” he said during Wednesday’s press conference. “For those who can get to the stores and buy it, that’s the preferred method.”