In the interest of public safety and to comply with local and state legal mandates, businesses are requiring customers to wear masks across the globe. Being pro-active and putting a plan in place for non-compliance with your company’s mask requirements could help your company and your staff who have to enforce the requirement. As part of a detailed plan to slow the spread and flatten the curve of COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have endorsed and recommended wearing cloth face coverings or masks when employees or customers interact with one another.
As a private business, you can have a “no shirt, no shoes, no service” policy. Some banks have also started requiring no hoodies or sunglasses policies. A private business can elect to have a policy of “no mask, no service” even if your locality does not mandate them. You have the power to decide whether your business will allow visitors or customers onto your property if they are not wearing masks.
According to the CDC, some people should be exempt from wearing masks. The CDC states: “Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children younger than two years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.” You may have an obligation to accommodate some people, where possible, by allowing them to not wear a mask. Please note, however, that some state public health orders do not allow you to require documentation of the medical condition.
Mask requirements for your company should disclosed to those entering and, ideally, provided prior to the arrival of customers or visitors. Posting notices on your website, social media platforms, apps, entrance doors and inside your business is recommended. The notices, including on the entrance doors, should include that you reserve the right to refuse service or entry to those not in compliance with your mask requirement especially where local law requires masks. The notice could include that those found out of compliance will be requested to put on a mask and asked to leave if they do not comply.
Employees should be trained on all health and safety measures you implement, including the reason why. These measures are for their protection as well as the protection of your customers and visitors. Make sure your employees know the local and state requirements thoroughly. This will help educate them and equip them in dealing with the public. Requiring masks of employees and customers/visitors could also help your company avoid OSHA citations or other temporary state safety standards that have been implemented in response to COVID-19.
Employees should be trained on the polite way to request those out of compliance to wear a mask. A possibility would be to clearly and calmly ask “Our company policy is to require all visitors to wear a mask. Can I provide one to you?” To avoid confrontations and not engage in them, you may remind the customer/visitor of your mask rule and offer other options and alternatives such as curb side pickup, online options, or returning at another time.
Your employees should be trained in what you want them to say to those who refuse after being politely requested to wear a mask. An example might be “If you will not wear a mask per our policy, then I have been instructed to contact my manager who will need to discuss this with you.” Immediate involvement of a manager could avoid uncomfortable and undesirable confrontations. If the customer/visitor becomes belligerent, the company should designate a manager to speak with them in a private location who explains the policy as well as any applicable local or state ordinance regarding the use of face masks.
If they still will not comply, the manager could be asked to respectfully escort them to the exit of the private company property and let them know they will be welcome to return if they comply with the company mask policy or when the need for a mask is gone. Physical contact is not recommended, and the manager could call the company’s security or local authorities similarly to how you would handle a trespasser. Documentation should be promptly created regarding the incident and provided to your HR and legal departments in case it is required at a later date.