A small survey of Central New York retail workers reveals a wide range of enforcement policies at local businesses. What have you seen while you're out and about in Utica and Rome?

After a visit to TJ Maxx in New Hartford, where mask-wearing appeared inconsistent among customers, we wondered who - if anyone - is responsible for mask enforcement in local businesses. In fact, we found employees from the same stores with different understandings of the corporate policy.  The answers we received shed some light on the tough situation retail workers find themselves in.

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Several responses came from employees at two local grocery chains, saying they've been told that corporate policy says they can ask customers to wear a mask, but they are not permitted to ask a customer to leave if they're not wearing one. Another employee said management will ask a customer to leave at Price Chopper if they're not wearing a mask.

A Turning Stone employee says things are strict at the casino. He says employees actively enforce mask wearing and even have players use hand sanitizer when they take a seat at gaming tables.

A Bass Pro Shop employee said they strongly encourage customers to wear a mask, will provide one if needed, and offer to hold their items until they return to their car and get a mask to wear. On the other hand, a front end worker said she was told they can't force a shopper to leave for non-compliance.

One fast food worker says both she and her daughters work in the industry, and they are very strict in enforcing mask wearing.

Jay-K lumber says they've had nearly 100% compliance, and they offer customers a mask if they aren't wearing one.

This information paired with the videos we've seen a few shoppers becoming enraged when asked to wear a mask - doing everything from verbally harassing, spitting on, or, as in a recent case in Canada, assaulting a retail worker - show how complicated this situation is.

Aside from potentially being exposed to the virus, is it fair to ask retail workers - likely earning close to minimum wage - to put themselves in harm's way to enforce the mask policy? And why aren't corporations doing more to protect these workers from the health risks of the virus, or allowing them to remove non-compliant shoppers?

Do you have an experience you want to share? Contact me at beth@lite987.com


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