Businesses differ in enforcement of North Carolina mask mandate

Businesses enforcing NC mask mandate differently

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Starting last Friday, masks are now required in public when social distancing is not possible.

A few exceptions to the mandate include if you have a health condition that keeps you from being able to wear a mask, or you are under 11 years of age.

Local businesses are enforcing the mandate in different ways.

“When COVID started in early March, I took a leave of absence,” former Harris Teeter employee Beth Clements said. “My daughter works at a senior living facility and we needed to keep them safe. But I thought I would go back.”

Clements said she worked at Harris Teeter in Matthews for five years, but she won’t be going back after learning the way they are handling the mask mandate.

She said she is disappointed that they are not requiring customers that refuse to wear masks to leave the store.

“If they can’t protect their employees and customers anymore, I won’t work there,” Clements said. “I also won’t shop there.”

According to a spokesperson from Harris Teeter: “For background purposes, late Friday, new guidance was issued by the Governor’s office which stated that retailers which display their provided signage are deemed compliant from an enforcement standpoint.”

The company also shared the following statement:

“Harris Teeter’s number one priority since the beginning of COVID-19 has been to provide a safe shopping experience for both shoppers and our valued associates on the front-line. Our associates have been required to wear face coverings since April 21. We are committed to doing everything we can to comply with the face-covering requirement without placing our valued associates in difficult situations. We ask our shoppers to follow the requirements and to be kind to our associates.

“For those not in compliance, our policy is for a member of store management to approach the shopper to inform them of the Order and offer a free, disposable mask. If the individual declines, we must remember and understand that there are many exceptions outlined in the order, and our associates are not authorized nor qualified to ask an individual to present proof that they qualify for an exception.

Clements believes there are ways around this.

“They have home shoppers,” she said. “They can home shop for anyone who has a medical condition and can’t wear a mask.”

At businesses like Heist Brewery in NoDa, they will turn you away.

“There’s no budging on this,” managing partner Spencer Farrell said. “Rules are rules. If you’ve got a table, you sit at your table. If you don’t want to wear a mask, I hate it but I can’t serve you.”

Fortunately, Ferrell said they have only had to do that a few times.

“On Friday at 5 o’clock when the order went in, 90 percent of the people came in with their own masks and if they didn’t have one, obviously we provided one and they were really cool about it,” Farrell said.

Many grocery shoppers are also choosing to follow the rules, but when someone does not, Clements worries for her former co-workers.

“The people at Harris Teeter have been working so incredibly hard during this pandemic,” Clements said. “I feel terrible that they’re in a position where they have to be somewhere where they may not be protected.”

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