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'It's a really divisive thing' | Sacramento businesses differ on mask enforcement for guests

Some businesses say the statewide mask mandate is making their jobs easier. Others say they're simply not going to police the public.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As a statewide mask mandate was put into place on Thursday, the weekend conveyed that not all Californians are happy about it.

Over the weekend, a Turlock Walmart called police for trespassing after some customers refused to wear masks in the store, Turlock Police Chief Nino Amirfar said.

Businesses and workers are adjusting to mask requirement enforcement. For most, making swift changes during the coronavirus pandemic isn't anything new.

"It's having to be flexible and nimble and appreciating our customers' patience with changes that have to take place literally overnight," said Sacramento Co-op Marketing Director Jennifer Cliff. 

Many might think the statewide mask mandate puts more of a burden onto businesses that have to enforce mask wearing with customer, but Cliff said it's actually making it easier. She said it's now a "tell," rather than an ask.

RELATED: Turlock Walmart refused service to non-mask wearing guests, called cops for trespassing, Police Chief says

"We were strongly encouraging our customers to do so [before the statewide mandate]," said Cliff. "But now, it's a non-issue, so it does make conversations a lot more simple... We just say, 'This is outside our control. This is from the state.'"

Sac Co-op has had employees outside their store since the start of the pandemic, monitoring and limiting the number of customers inside at one time to make sure social distancing guidelines could be maintained. Now, those same workers also ensure every customer entering has a mask.

So far, they said there haven't been too many issues, but they recognize it might be something that arises.

"[Wearing a mask] is a really divisive thing. There's people that completely believe everyone should be wearing a mask and then there's a strong group that believe in not wearing a mask," Cliff said.

That's why Sac Co-op is offering masks to customers who either forgot one or don't want to wear one.

Credit: abc10kxtv
Customers at Sac Co-op prepare to shop, wearing masks following the California statewide mandate

RELATED: Gov. Newsom, former California governors urge use of face coverings

But other businesses are allowing customers to choose.

"We're not really forcing customers. I'm not going to try to police the public in this situation," said Sacramento Ace Hardware's General Manager Brett Werner. "We're responsible for our employees, and I'm going to require them to wear a mask."

Werner said his main priority is keeping his employees safe. He has done this by abiding to the CDC guidelines as well as increasing sanitation measures around the store and cleaning of products, putting in sneeze guards and mandating employees wear a mask. But as for whether or not customers wear them, it's up to them.

It's a like-minded attitude many law enforcement agencies also have towards enforcing mask regulations. 

Sacramento County Sheriff, Elk Grove Police, Citrus Heights Police, Roseville Police, Tuolumne County Sheriff, San Joaquin County Sheriff and Placer County Sheriff have all said they're focusing on educating rather than enforcing. 

But as Governor Newsom said in a press conference Monday, 35% of positive coronavirus cases have occurred within just the last 14 days. Officials and businesses alike are encouraging customers to wear masks and are also wearing their own.

"We have the mask on but... we always say - you can see it in the eyes. We're smiling inside them," said Cliff.



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WATCH ALSO: Turlock Walmart call cops on non-mask wearing guests, sought trespassing charges, Chief says

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