Some businesses reinstate mask mandates as COVID cases rise

Some businesses reinstate mask mandates as COVID cases rise
Posted at 4:42 PM, Aug 03, 2021

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.

RELATED: Giant Eagle requiring masks for employees, 'strongly requesting' masks for customers starting Aug. 6

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.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Download the News 5 app for free to easily access local coronavirus coverage, and to receive timely and limited news alerts on major COVID-19 developments. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Vaccinating Ohio - Find the latest news on the COVID-19 vaccines, Ohio's phased vaccination process, a map of vaccination clinics around the state, and links to sign up for a vaccination appointment through Ohio's online portal.

See data visualizations showing the impact of coronavirus in Ohio, including county-by-county maps, charts showing the spread of the disease, and more.

Rebound Northeast Ohio News 5's initiative to help people through the financial impact of the coronavirus by offering one place to go for information on everything available to help and how to access it. We're providing resources on:

Getting Back to Work - Learn about the latest job openings, how to file for benefits and succeed in the job market.

Making Ends Meet - Find help on topics from rent to food to new belt-tightening techniques.

Managing the Stress - Feeling isolated or frustrated? Learn ways to connect with people virtually, get counseling or manage your stress.

Doing What's Right - Keep track of the way people are spending your tax dollars and treating your community.

We're Open! Northeast Ohio is place created by News 5 to open us up to new ways of thinking, new ways of gathering and new ways of supporting each other.

View a map of COVID-19 testing locations here.

Visit Ohio's Coronavirus website for the latest updates from the Ohio Department of Health.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.