Masks have become a tool of political war. So much so, in fact, that you can tell which party someone supports based on whether they wear a mask or not.
In fact, currently the 10 largest retailers, and most of the top 40, as ranked by the National Retail Federation, require both employees and customers to wear masks.
Stores aren’t necessarily turning customers without masks away. Walmart, for example, stations employees outside who work with customers to ensure they have a mask on. Other retailers, like Meijer, simply have masks available for customers to purchase at a variety of price points.
So basically, they’re making mask-wearing as easy as possible. And that means they’re keeping as much business as they can amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Both domestically and globally, there’s actually been a lot of debate about whether masks actually do any good or not.
Sweden is an interesting example of not requiring masks. Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s top coronavirus expert, has consistently argued against the use of masks.
Sweden’s infection rate hit a peak in June, reports an article at Fortune. But it has fallen dramatically since.
Tegnell argues not wearing masks is a more sustainable, long-term approach than shutting the entire country down and wearing masks. Many countries who follow the latter approach are now seeing second waves of coronavirus, while Sweden’s continues to head down.
US CDC Recommendations Differ
CDC recommendations, however, currently encourage everyone to wear cloth masks or homemade masks when it’s difficult to maintain 6 feet of social distancing.
However, the ideal, the CDC says, is to aim for wearing medical-grade masks which block both large and small droplets from coughs and sneezes (when worn properly).
Another unintended problem with masks is that they give people a false sense of security. So, people lose awareness of other things they do which could cause the spread of coronavirus, such as touching their eyes.
Nonetheless, the CDC currently continues to recommend face masks be worn.
What Choice Do Retailers Have?
While the evidence on the spread of coronavirus and the most effective methods for preventing it is mixed, confusing, and highly political, retailers really only have one choice: give customers the sense of security they want, regardless of the effectiveness of wearing masks.
Though masks may not be an effective long-term solution, opinion lies where it lies.
And you have to follow suit.
So for now, you’ll have to enforce the wearing of masks and hope for the best.