Marilyn Rees, head bakery clerk at Kroger, Missville, Batesville, began to notice more customers roaming the store without masks this month after repealing the state’s mandate to cover the face. Kröger still needs them, but it does not matter.
When 56-year-old breast-cancer survivor Ms. Rees sees the shopkeepers, she prays. “Please, please, don’t let me wait on them, because in my heart, I don’t want to ignore them, I don’t want to refuse them,” she said. “But then I’m thinking that I don’t want to get sick or die. It’s not that people are bad, but you don’t know who they’ve come in contact with.”
Ms. Rees’s heightened concern is shared by retail and fast-food workers in states such as Mississippi and Texas, where governments have removed the mask mandate before most people are vaccinated and new forms of irritating coronaviruses appear Have been. It seems like a return to the early days of the epidemic, when businesses said customers should wear masks, but there were no legal requirements and many shoppers simply refused. Many workers state that their stores do not enforce the requirement, and if they contact customers, they risk verbal or physical changes.
“This is a huge misinterpretation of safety, and it is no different now than it was a year ago,” said Ms. Rees, who has not yet been able to receive a vaccine due to allergies. “The only difference we have now is that people are getting vaccinated, but not enough people have got vaccinated that they should lift the mandate.”
For many people who work in retail, especially grocery stores and big-box chains, mask repeal is another example of how little protection and appreciation they have received during the epidemic. While they were praised as essential workers, that rarely Translated into additional pay Above their low salaries. Grocery employees were not initially given priority for vaccination Most states, Even though health experts warn the public to limit time in grocery stores because of the risk posed by new coronovirus variants. (Texas opened availability for everyone 16 and older on Monday.)
The issue has gained seriousness: On Monday, President Biden called the governors and mayors Maintaining or restoring order of wearing masks As the country grapples with a possible increase in cases of the virus.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents about 900,000 grocery employees, said this month that at least 34,700 grocery workers across the country were infected or exposed to Kovid-19 and at least 155 workers were infected with the virus. had died. Recent mass shooting Grocery store in Boulder, Colo., Has only pushed workers forward and added concerns about their safety.
Diane Cambray, a 50-year-old floor supervisor in Kroger, Midlothian, Texas, said she spent the last year worrying about bringing her 9-year-old son home with the virus and interacted with customers who were flippant. About the possibility of getting sick. She wears a double mask at the store, even though it irritates her skin, itching already from psoriasis, and changes her clothes as soon as she gets home.
After the government, Greg Abbott of Texas said on March 2 that he would End statewide mask mandate The following week, Ms. Cambre said, customers immediately “started not wearing masks and accessories, and it’s becoming very difficult not to wear one.” He said that the management is going to provide masks to those who do not wear them, but if they do not keep them, nothing else is done.
Asking customers to wear masks can lead to stressful exchanges and even Cart-pushing adults tantrums.
“Some of our customers are drama-prone, so they will start shouting, ‘I haven’t worn that mask,’ and you can tell that they are too harsh in their voice and too harsh,” Ms. Cambre, a UFCW member , he said. Viewing the self-checkout assays has been particularly challenging, she said, because customers who need help will demand that they arrive, making it impossible to maintain a distance of six feet.
When he said, “They said, ‘Okay, and it’s just a government thing,” “it really takes a toll on you mentally.”
A representative of Kroger said that the chain would “require everyone in all of our stores to wear masks until all of our frontline grocery partners can get the Kovid-19 vaccine”, and that those workers will be $ 100 was offered a lump sum payment, who received the vaccine.
Some activists are more concerned with different state and business mandates Collision. The retail industry was already trying to finalize the issue, when a major trade group helped put together training to help manage workers, and masks, social disturbances and the range of store capacity Ended disputes with customers who opposed. Refusal to serve people without a mask, Or asking them to leave, has led to incidents in the past year such as being punched in the face of a cashier, breaking the hand of a target employee and the fatal shooting of one Family Dollar Security Guard.
This month in League City, Texas, near Houston, a 53-year-old man who Refused to wear Essential masks in one Jack in the Box According to a report by The Houston Chronicle, employees confronted and then stabbed a store manager three times. On March 14, a San Antonio Ramon shop Vandalized After his boss criticized Mr. Abbott on television for lifting the Texan mask mandate with racist graffiti.
On March 17, a 65-year-old woman was arrested Office depot in texas city To behave in the same manner after an arrest warrant was issued for him in Gallowston, Texas, just days after he refused to wear a mask or leave the store Bank of america Location.
Mary Kayur, owner of two antique stores in Dallas, including Lula Bee’s Design District, said the mask mandate repel meant a lot to the stores and the behavior of the people.
“They should have focused more on getting vaccinated rather than trying to open everything up to the people,” said Governor Abbott, noting that Texas has one of the nation’s slowest vaccination rates.
“You are still the case every day in Texas, and you are the only people still dying from Kovid,” she said. “It is foolish to carry out this mandate. It should not have been based on politics – it should have been based on science. “
Some Texans have started looking for facade-friendly installations. Ms. Keylar said that the list of Dallas businesses requiring masks was circulating on Facebook, and people were advising them to find out where to buy groceries and make other purchases.
Emily Francois, a Walmart sales associate in Port Arthur, Texas, said customers were ignoring signs of wearing masks and that Walmart was not enforcing the policy. So Ms. Francois lives six feet away from shopkeepers who do not wear masks, even though some of them have been offset. “My life is more important,” he said.
Ms. Francois, who has worked at Walmart for 14 years and is a member of the United Nations for Honor Group. “Customers coming to the store without masks make us feel that we are not worthy, we are not safe.”
Walmart spokesman Philip Keene said that “our policy to wear masks to associates and customers in our shops has helped protect them during the epidemic, and we are not taking those measures at this time.”
Ms. Reece, a Kroeger clerk epidemic in Mississippi, was wearing a mask to protect herself from the flu due to her diagnosis of cancer.
She said that 99 percent of the customers in her small store wore masks during the epidemic. “When they had to apply it, they applied it,” she said. “It’s like giving a piece of candy to a child – that child is going to eat that candy until you take it from them.”
He is concerned about potential losses from the new variants, especially those that do not cover his mouth. Ms. Resse, who is also a member of the UFCW and has worked for Kroger for over 30 years, all you have to do is pray and you don’t have to meet them by six feet or for that matter 10 feet. “I know people want it back to normal, but you can’t do it back to normal.”