Clarifying questions about handling customers who refuse to wear masks
State Clarifies Mask Wearing Guidance
Retail Association of Maine has been asking for additional clarity regarding how and when retailers can better enforce the facial covering requirement on customers. At issue has been how to address customers that claim a medical exemption, for example.
It took some time, but we are pleased to share the following guidance on some specific questions. They were included in the Winter Capacity FAQ issued on October 6, 2020. Of importance is Questions 14, 15, 16 and 17:
(14) Are the rules for retail establishments – a total of 5 customers per 1,000 square feet of shopping space – changing?
(15) Do I have to require a mask if someone says they have a medical condition?
A. A person not wearing a required face covering who seeks to enter an establishment shall first be informed of the face covering requirements and given a chance to comply by putting on either a cloth face covering or plastic face shield. If that person continues to refuse and asserts a medical condition as the reason for the refusal, the operator of the establishment may offer alternative means of service at curbside or delivery if available as an accommodation, but may not permit the person to enter without a face covering. The establishment operator shall not ask for the nature of the medical condition, or ask for proof.
(16) Am I liable if I ask a customer refusing to wear a mask to leave?
No, so long as the business offered an accommodation such as offering a mask or face shield or suggested take out or other forms of service.
(17) Will law enforcement help my employees if a customer becomes belligerent regarding required masks?
Yes since the executive order on required face coverings has the force of law.
One item of note on (14) above: The current customer limit remains at 5 per 1,000 square feet. We have been in conversations with the administration on increasing that number safely through the holiday shopping season. While we are hopeful that number will change soon, it has not yet changed. We urge our members to continue to monitor the customer counts in your stores to remain in compliance.