STOW, Ohio — With Summit County now under a mask mandate after being declared a Level 3 public health risk by state officials, the Stow Police Department is reminding residents to follow protocols set by the state and businesses and establishments or risk criminal charges.
The police department took to Facebook Friday to discuss individuals who are refusing to wear a mask inside a place of business and are subsequently asked to leave.
“Businesses have always been required to do their best to protect their customers and employees. Businesses can require that proper attire be worn in their business. Remember the phrase, 'No shirt, No shoes...No service?'” the department wrote on Facebook.
Stow police said that if a business says that masks are required to enter or shop, customers must comply or leave.
“So, if a business posts at the entrance to their business that a mask or appropriate facial covering is required to enter/shop, then you need to comply with the posting. If a person refuses, the business has the right to refuse service to that person(s) and they can request that person(s) leave,” the department wrote.
Individuals who refuse to leave at the request of the business are then considered to be trespassing and the business can call the police to request assistance in the removal of the customer, Stow police said.
“If a person(s) refuse to leave then they are now trespassing. A store employee with proper authority can call the Stow Police Department to request assistance with the person(s) committing the crime of trespassing. The Stow Police Department will respond to trespassing violations and enforce (as needed),” the department wrote.
While police can charge individuals who refuse to leave a place of business with trespassing, they said it is not their “preferred course of action” and are asking the public’s cooperation in the mandates and business requirements.
Stow police said they know that some people are taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously while others may believe that it isn’t that serious or harbor conspiracy theories about the virus being a political ploy. While the department said it isn’t judging people “by how they perceive the seriousness” of the pandemic, they will get involved and assist when it comes to “maintaining peace and order.”