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Some customers still refuse to wear masks in California

Employees are urged not to attempt to argue or force a customer to adhere to COVID-19 prevention policies such as wearing a mask, the CDC says.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — While a majority of customers at California businesses are following the state’s mask mandate, some business industry groups say a small group of people still challenge the rules.

Businesses have been placed in the tough position of enforcing restrictions in California since Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the mask mandate on June 18. With few exceptions, the order requires most people to wear masks in public places where social distancing isn’t possible.

“Our grocery stores are our community and we want to keep both our customers and our employees safe,” said Ron Fong, President and CEO of the California Grocers Association, an industry group representing California’s grocery stores.

Businesses have implemented enhanced sanitation, made barriers at registers, and created social distancing and mask policies to comply with new state restrictions and to help customers feel more comfortable while shopping.

Videos circulating on social media show customers becoming angered when employees ask them to mask-up. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in August issued new guidance to businesses in efforts to limit workplace violence related to COVID-10 prevention policies.

Employees are urged to not attempt to argue or force a customer to adhere to COVID-19 prevention policies such as wearing a mask if the customer becomes angered or violent.

Fong said a majority of customers follow the mask policies, but some have tried to make a political point.

“But we just say the grocery store is not the place to do that,” Fong said.

Many businesses have also implemented delivery or curbside pick up for customers who don’t feel comfortable shopping inside or for those who don’t want to wear a mask.

Krystal Moreno of Modesto refuses to wear a mask in public places. The mother to three small children said she follows regular hygiene protocols like handwashing.

“I think it’s probably because, initially the CDC said no, you didn’t need to wear a mask,” Moreno said.

Moreno said she has not been asked to leave a store for not wearing a mask. Although, she says she would leave a store if asked to.

When the coronavirus first reached the United States, the CDC said masks were not needed by the general public. Medical experts say wearing a cloth face covering or mask is effective in preventing the spread of coronavirus, especially if everyone wears one.

While some continue to argue the legality of the mask mandate, law experts say the mandates are constitutional. Leslie Jacobs is a professor at the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law.

“In an emergency, the governor can assume all the public health authority and that is what he did,” Jacobs said.

The threat of coronavirus to public health has prompted judicial officials to side with the state in numerous challenges to coronavirus restrictions.

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