Talking to Customers about Face CoveringsLisa Norwood2021-12-20T16:06:02-08:00
Talking to Customers about Face Coverings
Enforcing the face covering policy required by state law protects the well-being of your customers and your own personal safety while at work. Here are some tips and helpful information for communicating with customers who do not comply with the law.
The Oregon Health Authority currently requires the following:
Customers and visitors of businesses and of indoor and outdoor spaces open to the public are required to wear a mask, face shield, or face covering unless the individual is under five (5) years of age, except as follows:
Masks, face shields or face coverings are not required while eating or drinking.
Masks, face shields or face coverings are not required when at a business or in an indoor or outdoor space open to the public and engaged in an activity that makes wearing a mask, face shield or face covering not feasible, such as swimming.
Individuals who have a medical condition that makes it hard to breathe or a disability that prevents the individual from wearing a mask, face shield or face covering can request an accommodation from the business or indoor/outdoor space operator to enable full and equal access to services, transportation, and facilities open to the public.
Use a friendly, assertive tone to make the customer aware of the rule as soon as possible, in as much detail as necessary: “Hi, welcome! In accordance with state law, we do require face coverings [for our indoor dining tables].”
Letting customers know you are listening creates a sense of mutual respect. If you receive a negative response to the policy statement, briefly acknowledge the customer’s personal circumstance(s), if offered by them, followed by the solution:
Claims medical exemption: “We understand—if wearing a mask poses a health risk, we ask that you [order from us online] so that we can stay in compliance with state law.” (provide reasonable accommodation)
Focus on the requirement being mandated by the law, not you or your employer:
“This isn’t our rule, it’s just the law. Not complying puts our business at risk of fines from the state. If you are unwilling to wear a face covering, we cannot legally accept your business at this time.”
Generally, private businesses may refuse service for any reason except as may be prohibited by law. Examples of prohibited reasons for refusing service include refusal of service due to a protected characteristic (e.g., race, gender identity, religion, and so forth).
Try Saying This
Here are some examples of what to say when customers refuse to wear a face covering.
I forgot my mask.
No problem, it happens! We’re providing free face coverings—please help yourself to one.
No problem, it happens! You’re welcome to visit us another time when you have your mask.
I have a medical exemption.
We understand—if wearing a face covering poses a health risk to you, we ask that you [describe reasonable accommodations for individuals with legitimate medical exemptions].
I feel unsafe wearing a mask.
All of our customers must wear a face covering to keep us in compliance with state law. If wearing a mask makes you feel unsafe, we ask that you [order from us online] so that we can stay in compliance with state law, and keep you and our other customers as safe as possible.
I can’t afford a mask.
No problem—we understand. We offer [contactless pickup, delivery, etc.] for those without face coverings.
But I’m already here and I’ll make it quick.
Not complying with the law puts our business and the health of everyone here at risk. If you are unwilling to wear a face covering, we cannot legally accept your business at this time. We have to ask you to leave.
I’m not leaving and I’m not going to wear a mask.
We will not serve you without a face covering. If you refuse to leave, [security, the authorities, our staff, etc.] will be called to escort you out.
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