How Businesses Can Navigate Mask Mandates

How Businesses Can Navigate Mask Mandates

Carrie Pallardy
Carrie Pallardy
 | 
Masks have been a critical part of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released guidance for fully vaccinated people. Based on these recommendations, fully vaccinated people outside of healthcare settings can largely ditch their masks.
 
While the CDC guidance has been an important source of information throughout the pandemic, it does not supersede state and local laws and regulations at the business level. Some business owners may decide that they want to keep mask mandates in place, and they have the right to do so.
 
While the COVID-19 vaccine is widely available, not everyone will choose to be vaccinated. Thus far, vaccination status for customers in most cases is determined via the honor system. Business owners may opt to keep mask rules in place due to continuing concerns over staff and customer safety.
 
How can businesses enforce their own mask rules, especially if state and local regulations have relaxed?
 
  • Be transparent. Mask rules are currently surrounded by a lot of confusion. Not everyone knows where they are expected to wear a mask and where they can leave it off. Clear signage is the first step to enforcing a mask rule. Signs at the entrance and throughout the business that can be clearly seen help reinforce your rules.
  • Provide masks. With many major retailers relaxing or dropping their mask mandates, many people may stop buying or carrying masks with them while they shop. If you want customers to continue wearing masks while inside your business, consider offering them for free at the entrance.
  • Communicate. Masks are a contentious subject, with people politicizing the issue. If someone enters your business without a mask, you do have the right to ask them to put one on or leave.
  • Ask customers to leave. If a customer refuses to wear a mask or begins to argue with you or an employee, you can ask that person to leave your business. If the person becomes angry and refuses to leave, business owners can call the police. Refusal to comply with business policy and refusal to leave the premises could be considered criminal trespass.
  • Offer other options. The mask debate puts businesses in a tricky situation. They do not want to alienate customers, either those who want the reassurance of a mask mandate or those who do not want to wear a mask. If possible, businesses can consider offering alternatives. If a customer does not want to wear a mask inside of the business, offer curbside pickup or delivery.
  • Protect your employees. The responsibility of asking customers to wear masks often falls to employees. Consider sharing guidelines on how to handle customers who refuse to comply with the mask policy. Understand the pressure they face and try to offer support.

However a business decides to handle the mask issue, it is important to keep a close watch on all federal, state and local regulations and guidance.
 
This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

 
Carrie Pallardy

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