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How Are Businesses And Essential Workers Enforcing Mask And Social Distancing Policies?

A sign requiring a face mask at SpeakEasy Bar & Grill on May 09, 2020 in Newport, Rhode Island.
A sign requiring a face mask at SpeakEasy Bar & Grill on May 09, 2020 in Newport, Rhode Island.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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As businesses begin to reopen across the country, they’re doing so with guidelines in place. Social distancing must continue and many businesses are asking customers to wear a mask. But who enforces those policies, and what happens when people don’t comply with the rules? 

According to a recent piece in the New York Times, the employees are often left to enforce the rules and it can put them at risk. The article details a tense exchange at a California Trader Joe’s Store where an employee asked a customer to wear a mask and an incident in Van Nuys where a Target employee’s arm was broken while helping remove customers who refused to comply with the public health guidelines. A Flint, Michigan security guard was even shot and killed following a dispute over mask protocols. The Wall Street Journal reports, many cities are leaving it up to the businesses to decide how best to enforce policies. But it puts shops in a tricky position of navigating public health concerns and avoiding confrontation, sometimes violent confrontation.

Today on AirTalk, we want to hear from essential workers from retail businesses, grocery stores and restaurants. How has your workspace changed? And how is your business handling the enforcement of policies? Tell us your experience by calling 866-893-5722.


Rachel Michelin, president and CEO of the California Retailers Association (CRA), the trade group representing all aspects of retail in the state; she tweets @RachelEMichelin