Walmart and several other stores are really caught between a rock and a hard place. While wanting to keep employees AND customers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, enforcing mask policies has also proven to be hazardous to people’s physical health.
Despite making headlines for creating new mask regulations, Walmart, Home Depot, Walgreens, CVS and others say they will not ban customers who refuse to wear a mask from shopping in stores, CNN reports.
The biggest issue with enforcing mask policies is the threat to employees. Retailers say they want to avoid physical confrontations between angry customers and employees.
We know y’all have seen the videos on social media, well it sounds like employees are tired of playing mask police and with the increase in coronavirus cases, it’s prompting a larger concern over how to protect both customers and workers in crowded stores from infecting each other.
There is no federal mandate to wear a mask, and many state and local governments have not required wearing one either. This has forced retailers to create their own policies.
“Many retailers feel like they have to act since some governors haven’t,” said Melissa Murdock, spokesperson for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents companies such as Walmart, Target, Walgreens and others.
The group wrote to the National Governors Association earlier this month, saying that public officials should issue uniform mask mandates across all 50 states.
Labor advocates and retailers agree that store employees should not have to be the ones enforcing mask wearing, but it’s not clear who will.
“Either security or management needs to tell people that they must wear a face mask in order to be served. It’s no different than wearing shoes or a shirt,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. If companies “are not requiring customers to wear a mask within their store, then they never had a requirement. All they had was a public relations stunt.”
Before people get mad at these stores for not enforcing the policies they have in place, consider a cautionary tale in Michigan where a security guard at a Family Dollar was shot and killed by an angry customer who was told to wear a mask.
There have been hundreds of incidents of violence in connection to these mask policies. Let’s hope these elected leaders come up with a viable solution soon.
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