CLEVELAND — With COVID cases on the rise and the CDC’s recent guidance about mask-wearing, some businesses are reinstating their mask policies.
Giant Eagle announced it is requiring employees to wear masks in its stores starting Wednesday and "strongly requesting" customers to wear masks beginning Friday.
Some other small businesses are following suit, like Our Favorite Things Boutique in Cleveland.
“You must wear masks and if you don't have one, we have one for you,” said Lisa McGuthry, the owner of the store.
The policy is a 180-degree change from where they were just last week.
“We were getting away from wearing the masks and things like that and just being excited about being able to go without a mask with folks that are vaccinated,” said McGuthry.
She said that all changed with the CDC’s new guidance.
“We put our masks out for those customers that don't have them and hand sanitizer,” said McGuthry.
The decision to update mask policies is one many other retailers are making as COVID cases continue to rise.
Target and Walmart are requiring workers to wear masks and strongly encouraging customers to do so.
Cleveland restaurant Good Company is requiring its employees to wear masks also.
“As cases rise and as the CDC changes their guidelines, we take that into account,” said Brett Sawyer, chef and partner at Good Company.
Sawyer said all of his staff members have been vaccinated because they chose to do so personally, but they will still be masking up. The new policy went into effect over the weekend.
“With everything happening, we feel like it's our responsibility when we have a lot of people that we don't know if they're vaccinated or not in the restaurant to wear our masks to do our part to kind of quell the spread of COVID as much as we can,” said Sawyer.
Right now, customers will not be required to wear their masks while entering or walking around the restaurant, but Sawyer said that could change if case counts continue to rise.
Cleveland-based attorney Dan Karon said businesses can choose to enforce mask mandates and customers and employees have to abide by them.
Employees who don’t follow the rules can be fired.
“Your boss has the right to tell you to wear a mask; you’re an at-will employee. You don't like it, quit, or run the risk of getting fired,” said Karon. “As it concerns customers, wearing a mask or mask requirement I should say is no different than your no shoes, no shirt, no service than a dress code at a bar or restaurant.”
But there are exceptions for things like medical conditions that make wearing a mask difficult.
“You can ask for accommodations, no different than if you're a customer walking in expressing the need for accommodations,” said Karon.
So far, McGuthry said her employees and customers have been supportive of the new policy, but she’s disappointed that progress in the pandemic has started to slide in the opposite direction.
“I really think that this is going to go — if people don't get vaccinated — that it's going to get bigger. And I think it's essential that people get vaccinated,” said McGuthry.
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