- The Retail Industry Leaders Association is urging governors to require mask-wearing in public.
- RILA represents major retailers including Target and Home Depot.
- In a letter to state governors, RILA referenced “troubling incidents” involving aggressive customers who oppose wearing masks in stores, saying that retail workers are facing hostility and violence while on the job.
- Many of these incidents have circulated widely on social media.
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A major retail industry organization is asking state governors to step up their mask policies.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents major retailers including Target and Home Depot, sent a letter to the National Governors Association on Monday demanding a uniform requirement that everyone wear masks while in public.
“We urge every governor to require consumers who are not incumbered [sic] by a medical condition to wear masks when shopping or in public spaces,” the letter, written by RILA President Brian Dodge, reads.
While many states and cities have implemented rules for mandatory mask-wearing in public, some states still do not require it.
“Retailers commend the governors who have chosen to lead on this issue by requiring citizens in their state to wear a mask, and we respectfully ask that those governors that haven’t yet required masks in public to do so immediately,” Dodge’s letter continues.
Most retailers are requiring their employees to wear masks while on the job.
While there is evidence to support the idea that wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, policies requiring masks have become politically charged. A vocal minority of customers who oppose masks are harassing retail workers in incidents that have blown up on social media.
This past weekend, for example, a woman uploaded a video of herself destroying a mask display at a Target store in Arizona. In the video, she can be heard yelling “this s— is over” and “f— this s—” before being approached by two Target employees. In another incident from last week, two Home Depot shoppers in Illinois were seen arguing over mask policies.
The lack of a uniform mask requirement across the country has led to confusion for both shoppers and employees, and retail workers should not be put in the difficult position of having to enforce local policies, RILA argues in its letter.
“Given the troubling incidents we have all seen on social media involving aggressive customers refusing to wear a mask, we strongly recommend store employees not be charged with primary enforcement of mask mandates and that retailers not be fined for a customer’s non-compliance,” Dodge writes.
“Retailers are using extensive signage at entrances and throughout the store to enforce safety policies, and we recommend this be the role of retailers and their employees — to clearly communicate policy, but not physically confront customers.”