The amount of opposition to the mandates for wearing masks and practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has been blamed, in part, for the United States having the largest number of cases in the world, along with the most deaths. As of today, Aug. 20, the number of cases in the United States topped 5.4 million with 171,012 deaths.
Numerous businesses across the country have reported that customers being asked to don a mask before entering have been abusive and non-compliant. In one instance, security guard in Michigan was murdered after telling a customer to put on a face covering.
Some businesses have also been opposed to masks and other guidelines designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, among them a popular restaurant/bar in Eureka Springs called the Rockin’ Pig Saloon. Local residents have reported since early July that Rockin’ Pig was not requiring employees to wear masks and had a sign outside that seemed to encourage customers to not wear masks as required by the governor’s statewide mask mandate.
Numerous compliance visits by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and Alcohol Beverage Control found the establishment out of compliance, with the manager told inspectors that the Rockin’ Pig had no intention of complying with the mask mandate. The issue was scheduled to go before the Board of Health Friday with a recommended fine of $1000, but the Board could have decided to impose a lesser amount, a greater amount or other penalties.
However, during mediation this week with ADH, Rockin’ Pig owner Marshall Johnson agreed to a $1,000 fine and to start complying with the law. This came after an ADH report that indicated two people who tested positive for COVID-19 had visited the Rockin’ Pig within 14 days of their diagnosis.
Even businesses with every intention of complying can run into problems in customers. An article posted recently on the website for the Arkansas Medical Society written by Ike Devji, JD, has advice for healthcare providers for dealing with anti-mask patients that could be useful for other types of businesses, as well.
Devji suggests not arguing, but knowing the facts to effectively enforce your mask policy. He includes a list of spurious and false statements by those refusing to comply.
A summary of those include there is no First Amendment right to ignore mask rules. Complying with government and industry safety standards neither compels nor prohibits free speech. Neither the 4th or 5th Amendment nor HIPAA have any bearing on requiring a mask at your place of business. Yes, you can legally deny service to anyone who does not comply with your rules. There are no legally effective “mask exemption cards. They are fraudulent. And, no, ADA does not grant blanket exemptions to face mask policies.