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Businesses reserve the right to enforce mask mandates past June 2, legal experts say

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Posted at 4:12 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 23:45:01-04

CLEVELAND — As we approach the end date of Gov. DeWine’s statewide health orders Wednesday, some business owners are saying not so fast.

“We don't know what's coming into the front door,” said Dr. Chris Theodorou of Strongsville Dental and Laser Aesthetics. “We're in a different category than Costco, Target, department stores, restaurants.”

Theodorou said masks will still be mandatory for staff and customers, even after June 2 has come and gone.

“It's a healthcare facility. We do have aerosols still in the office,” Theodorou said. “We believe that our patients coming in and sitting in the waiting room still need to be wearing a mask until we see that there's a sufficient amount of the population vaccinated.”

Theodorou believes rules should vary across the board depending on the type of business.

“We're waiting on guidance from the American Dental Association and the Ohio State Dental Board. Maybe by the end of the summer, we will be able to start looking at easing our restrictions as a dental office,” Theodorou said. “By the end of the summer, we'll probably see some significant change in vaccine numbers.”

Regulations will relax at Market Garden Brewery Wednesday.

“As of June 2, we are just going forward. Masks are optional,” owner Sam McNulty said.

McNulty said customers and staff will have the right to choose whether to wear a facial covering.

“Our entire team is vaccinated so we're really happy about that. Our feeling is at this point, anybody that's not vaccinated has actively chosen not to be. I think the rest of us just want to live our lives and we feel protected. We’re excited about what the future holds,” McNulty said. “There's always a very, very small but very, very vocal part of the population that doesn't like anything and they're just going to make noise and complain. We're not too worried about that.”

Sharona Hoffman, a legal expert at Case Western Reserve University, said independent businesses do reserve the right to choose and staff may refuse service to non-compliant customers.

“They can require all sorts of things. They can say no smoking, even though you have a right to smoke in this country. They can say you still have to wear a mask within our premises,” Hoffman said. “Private businesses are able to have policies as long as they are not discriminatory. As long as they don't discriminate against people because of race, gender or anything else that is protected by law.”

Theodorou has already experienced resistance from patients before the official end of Ohio’s health mandates.

“We have had patients that have pushed back. Actually, even today, I had a patient who walked in, didn't call and didn't want to wear a mask,” Theodorou said. “She thought about it and said, ‘Yeah, you know, you're right. You are different than going into a department store.’”

In addition, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said visitors will be once again welcome inside city buildings beginning July 6, but facial coverings will be mandatory and all visitors may receive a temperature screening at the door.