SALT LAKE COUNTY – Macey’s Grocery is the latest retail chain announcing they will require their customers to wear face masks before entering the store. The list of chains adding facemask requirements is getting longer, but some retail analysts say they could be tricky to enforce.
Friday morning, officials from Macey’s issued a statement saying all customers will have to wear face coverings beginning July 20th. The statement says they’re concerned about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began, and they take mitigating the spread seriously. They’ll be offering free masks for people who need one or forget to bring theirs, while supplies last.
Retailers have lived under the rule that “the customer is always right” for many years. However, Dave Davis with the Utah Retail Merchants Association says when it comes to facemasks, that’s a very hard rule to live by because emotions are so high over the topic
“What’s happening now is we’ve got a split customer base,” Davis says.
He believes not every store owner wants to refuse service to their customers, since that could damage their reputation among certain groups. Davis also believes there are certain people who are actually looking to confront people over their decision to wear or not wear one, and it’s not feasible to call the police for every argument.
Davis says, “They’re spread thin as it is. It’s very difficult for them to respond to every retail store that may have a complaint.”
Davis isn’t hearing any stories about managers instructing their employees not to enforce their own mask mandates. He believes most retailers agree that wearing them slows the spread of the virus, and they want to keep their customers as safe as possible.
However, for people on the other side of the debate, this goes beyond what a store’s policy might be. Eric Moutsos with Utah Business Revival says store owners and operators absolutely have the right to decide what should happen inside their own businesses, but, he believes local and state governments are pressuring many of these companies to require face coverings.
“When the government comes in and puts pressure and threats on these small businesses, it’s un-American,” Moutsos says.
Groups like Defending Utah say there are people who can’t wear them because of medical or psychological conditions. They also say there have been multiple reports of people passing out while driving because of a lack of oxygen due to the mask.
Moutsos believes the government’s role is to protect his rights, not his health.
He says, “The government is putting pressure on churches, too. That’s where you now have a forced belief on the people.”