Illinois has decided to require masks in stores, and not everyone is happy about that decision. Most stores have made it mandatory for their employees to wear masks for some time now, but it’s a different matter to confront patrons as they walk in the door and tell them they have to wear a mask to enter.
As we see spikes and up and down waves in many states, many of the nation’s biggest retail stores have decided to make wearing a mask mandatory inside their stores. They are asking their employees to enforce this.
Among those stores that will fully require masks are Kohl’s, Best Buy, Kroger, Walmart, Target, CVS, Costco, and Starbucks. You may have seen some of these stores allowing people to slack in the mask-wearing department, but that is no longer going to be the case for these stores.
Walmart will post “health ambassadors” at the front door as you walk in. They will politely remind shoppers who attempt to enter without a mask that wearing a mask is now mandatory.
Some stores, including Sam’s Club and Best Buy, will offer free masks to those who need one. Walmart is looking into ways to handle sticky situations that may occur.
What if someone has a medical condition and is unable to wear a mask safely?
The state suggests that if you have a legitimate health issue and can’t wear a mask, work with local stores or even big chains to come up with ways to make your purchases safely. The best solution is to order your purchases in advance and ask the store to bring your products to the car for you. If that can’t happen, they may allow you to come to the store at their least busy time and have you maintain social distancing.
What if a customer refuses to wear a mask?
Stores are saying that most people are okay with wearing masks. But some people believe it’s their right to refuse to do so. Walmart stated that they would not put their employees in harm’s way. If someone creates an uncomfortable situation, employees are to get a manager who will try to reason with the customer and suggest alternate solutions like a curbside pick-up.
Large retail stores can hire more people and have friendly faces at the door to reason with those folks who are unhappy about having to wear a mask. Still, the small stores like the ones in our lovely downtown Marshall have to deal with this and may only have a handful of employees, or in some cases, one employee. Telling strangers at Walmart or Costco to wear a mandatory mask or they can’t enter, is a lot easier than confronting neighbors that you know well and treat as friends. That alone might be an incentive to wear masks to make it easier for them. You never know what merchant has a sick person or elder at home. Smaller stores mean smaller spaces and more difficulty in keeping our distance. Masks are a big help in those environments.
There is no federal mandate for the wearing of masks. This has left retailers to deal with this and create their policies and rules. It’s not fair to expect store employees to enforce those policies; however, this may be equally difficult for teachers to enforce with students when schools open again. Many people are equating the wearing of masks in public places and schools, etc. to wear shoes and shirts, just something we have to do.
There have been some unfortunate acts of violence over the wearing of masks. Videos have gone viral, showing people raging over the idea that they are being forced to wear a mask. No company or business large or small wants that kind of incident to occur.
Customers themselves don’t want to be involved in such situations either. They want to shop where they feel safe and protected both from the virus and violence. This has caused some retailers to hire private security guards to help diffuse bad situations over mask-wearing, mask shaming, or angry outbursts. In some instances, the police have been called in to deal with the combative customer.
When should masks be worn?
Other than children under the age of 2, and those suffering from a medical condition that requires they do not wear one, everyone is being tasked to wear masks in public. Even with masks, staying 6 feet apart will help not to spread the virus. Cold and flu season are not far away, so these two things will help keep nasty germs from passing from person to person with flues.
Health care providers will require a mask for your visits. Prominent public places like groceries and pharmacies and public transportation, masks are required, but even if you go through the drive-thru, wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer is good practice.
You don’t need to wear a mask at home or in your car, nor do you need to wear one when outdoors, mowing the lawn, doing yard work, or even taking a walk or run. Just avoid crowds and close contact with people, not in your household.
It’s not ideal having to take all these precautions, but staying safe, keeping those we love, and each other from getting sick and helping our local merchants deal with all of this makes it worthwhile.