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Health District: What to do if a customer refuses to wear a mask

Gov. Jay Inslee's mandate that businesses refuse service to customers without masks, except for those who cannot wear one due to a medical issue, went into effect today, July 7.

 

Last updated 7/10/2020 at 10:15am

Courtesy of the Snohomish Health District

Businesses will be required to refuse service to customers not wearing a face mask, unless they have a medical condition preventing them from doing so, starting today, July 7, per the governor's mandate.

The Snohomish Health District came out with more guidelines for businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, including steps of how to respond to a customer not wearing a face mask.

Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that all businesses will be required to refuse service to customers not wearing a mask or face covering, starting Tuesday, July 7, when indoors or outdoors where maintaining 6 feet of social distance is impossible. The mandate does not apply to people with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask, or to children less than two years old.

According to the Health District, businesses should first "politely educate" the customer about the statewide mask requirement, and said the business may have a supply of disposable masks for customers who arrive without their own.

If the customer still refuses to wear a mask, the business should then ask if the customer has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing one, but should not ask what the condition is or ask for documented proof. Businesses should then offer to accommodate the customer with curbside pickup, an appointment, or some other solution to help maintain social distancing guidelines, the Health District said.

If the customer still refuses to wear a mask (and does not have a medical condition preventing them from doing so), businesses are to tell the customer it cannot serve them and ask them to leave. After that, businesses are to follow their own procedures for when a customer refuses to leave normally, including calling law enforcement. Businesses should not physically remove the customer, according to the Health District.

The guidelines are as follows:

–"A business representative or employee should politely educate the customer or visitor about the public health requirement to wear a mask or face covering. Businesses may choose to keep a supply of disposable masks to offer customers who do not have one."

–"If the individual still declines to wear a mask or face covering, the business representative or employee should politely inquire as to whether the person has a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask. Again, businesses cannot inquire about the details about a person's specific medical condition or disability or ask for proof or documentation of that condition."

–"For customers who are unable to wear a face covering, businesses are encouraged to offer some kind of accommodation for the customer such as curbside pickup, delivery, or a scheduled appointment when physical distancing can be ensured."

–"If a customer or individual refuses to wear a face covering but does not have a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, they should be politely told that the business cannot serve them and that they need to leave the premises."

–"Employees or business representatives should not attempt to physically block an individual from entering or physically remove them from the premises. If the individual refuses to leave, they should follow whatever procedures they normally follow if an individual refuses to leave the establishment when asked to do so (including contacting local law enforcement to indicate that the individual is trespassing)."

The new mask requirement has drawn criticism from some, and support from others. Chelsey Lawrence responded to the Beacon’s post on social media asking for reactions to the face mask rule.

“I am more willing to actually shop in person knowing that others supposed to be complying with the mask mandate. I am hoping that businesses will comply with the mask mandate so I can feel safe in running my errands. And if people feel safer visiting places such as restaurants and shops, won’t that be helpful toward the economy, which we are also trying to salvage?” Lawrence said. She said she’s also been wearing a mask, and making them, since March because she has a pre-existing condition that puts her at a higher risk for complications from COVID-19.

Jennifer Mansson said, “I’m super glad about the tightening of mask requirements. I am one who would refuse to (shop at) a business who doesn’t enforce mask wearing.” Ashley Hemenway said she disagreed with the mask requirement because the solution of curbside delivery doesn’t work for people with lower incomes, since some stores have minimum purchase orders for curbside delivery.

“So the accommodation of those who cannot wear a mask who are denied service (and) have to use curbside (delivery) – that is not a fair accommodation. I don’t have $35 to spend every time I need one item,” Hemenway said.

The Health District also clarified safety plan requirements and the role of a COVID-19 site supervisor and safety plans.

In preparation for Phase 3 of reopening, businesses are asked to develop a COVID-19 safety plan that should be provided to health officials if contacted. A template can be found here: https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/BusinessTemplate_Phase3_1.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

The plans don't need to be submitted for approval, but businesses should have them if asked for them during a routine health inspection. Businesses should also have signage about proper handwashing, face coverings, and social distancing; the Health District has some for download here: https://www.snohd.org/501/Posters-for-Download

The role of a COVID-19 site supervisor is to enforce the business's safety plan and "serves as a liaison to the Health District should an employee test positive for COVID-19." Businesses should report who the site supervisor is to the Health District so they can be contacted quickly in their preferred channel if an employee or visitor tests positive: http://www.snohd.org/FormCenter/Business-Forms-13/Business-Contact-Information-for-COVID19-72.

Health District staff will contact the business if a person tests positive, ask for a list of potential close contacts, and review safety measures to keep employees safe. The business may be asked to give the Health District a list of employees or visitors that were on site during a specific time period, and should send the information immediately, "or no more than four hours after requested."

The Health District staff will go over the need to keep the identity of the positive case confidential. If a business learns of a positive case before being notified by the Health District, the business should email [email protected] and request follow-up during regular business hours.

Read the Health District's full guidelines here: http://www.snohd.org/civicalerts.aspx?AID=379

Read the state's mask mandate here: https://www.coronavirus.wa.gov/information-for/you-and-your-family/face-masks-or-cloth-face-covering

 

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