employees who won’t wear masks should be fired

During the Capitol riots last month, as lawmakers took shelter in a small, windowless room a group of Republican legislators refused to wear masks – infuriating many of their colleagues and leading to at least eight infections among members of Congress.

It’s a situation that’s being replicated in workplaces around the country, as employees are forced to deal with colleagues who won’t wear masks – and, often, companies that won’t enforce policies requiring them to. At Slate today, I argue that employers should warn and then swiftly fire employees who refuse to wear masks, and I look at where the law is in all this. You can read it here.

{ 376 comments… read them below }

  1. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

    Freedom of opinion isn’t freedom from consequences. I could not agree more with Allison’s post, and respect the confidence in your beliefs it takes to share this opinion without equivocation. Hell. yeah.

    1. Dual Peppin Whiskey*

      Just came to say the same–hear hear! Thank you for writing this Alison, couldn’t agree more!!!

  2. Chilipepper*

    Thank you!
    This is much appreciated and I hope the OSHA rules or guidelines I see popping up will help.
    I hate all the nose commandos at my workplace – and that’s coworkers, not the public (who are much worse).

    1. Seal*

      Some days it takes all my willpower not to scream at the top of my lungs “THE MASK GOES OVER YOUR NOSE!!!”

      That said, I’m dying over the phrase “nose commandos”. The perfect description for that particular category of mask-holes.

      1. Not using my normal name for this one*

        I am the nose police at my workplace. I’m in a public library that’s only partially open right now, but the number of times I have to tell a person to pull their mask up in any given day is depressing.

        There’s one regular offender that I have to remind several days a week. He always pulls the mask up and says he’s sorry, and I’m always tempted to say if he was really sorry he’d stop wearing his mask incorrectly and putting us all in danger.

        1. Leslie*

          My library allows us to ban patrons who remove their masks or wear their masks incorrectly. (They get 3 warnings, and if they do it again, they’re banned for 24 hours. If they continue to violate the policy, they get banned for progressively longer periods of time. After 4 violations they get permanently banned.) IT IS SO GREAT. I really appreciate how seriously my employer is taking covid. In general, they’re very good at employee support — that’s how they get away with paying us so little! :(

      2. AKchic*

        I now have a mask that says “It Goes Over Your Nose”. I need to buy a second one to ensure I don’t wear the other one out.

    2. Madeleine Matilda*

      My polite and cheerful comment is always “Hey, Joe, your mask is slipping down.” said with a smile while I silently wonder how long it took him to learn to wear clothes and shoes as a toddler. Although I do not say that if I don’t know the person because you can never judge a stranger’s reaction and there have been too many stories of violent responses.

      1. Chilipepper*

        It is literally part of my job to tell the public to mask up or to cover their noses. I have my own phrases, key one is, “Oh, your nose has come uncovered,” said in a matter of fact tone like I would if your penis/breast were showing and of course you would fix it. I at least amuse myself with that thought. But so many people push back! The other day a man yelled at me that “you came closer than 6 feet to tell me that!” Yes, yes I did, it is my job and we are inside!!

        1. PersephoneUnderground*

          I hate to defend that jerk, but please don’t go within 6 feet even masked, especially inside! Obviously he was way more in the wrong though. And if you have a reason you have to go closer I won’t second guess. But inside means stay further away if at all possible, not closer. /End pedantic PSA

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            You said this: And if you have a reason you have to go closer I won’t second guess.
            But Chili said this: It is literally part of my job to tell the public to mask up or to cover their noses.

            It sounds to me like Chilipepper never goes close to others in the workplace *except* in situations like this. And people who are caught out *will* say anything to avoid admitting that they were wrong and knew it all along, and more so with witnesses. So it’s far far better for Chili to come up to the person to say something than to call out from 6 feet away so everyone could hear the reprimand and embarrass the nose commando even more.

      2. Third or Nothing!*

        I do the same thing! A simple matter-of-fact “oh hey your mask fell down” works maybe like 60% of the time. Which considering how folks around here feel about masks is actually really good.

    3. Bilateralrope*

      We get those exposed noses down here in New Zealand. No mask mandate. No outbreak in the community. Most people are going without masks.

      But there are still a significant number of people who choose to wear masks with their noses out. Or even chin protectors. I don’t understand their mindset.

      1. Mongrel*

        I’m in the UK so we still have a mess of it at the moment but if I’m outside in public and there’s no-one near me I’ll pull it down. If it’s off of my nose it’s not misting my glasses and if it’s around my neck it’s easy to pull up when required

    4. Free Meerkats*

      My favorite mask came from etsy and says, “THE MASK GOES OVER YOUR NOSE”. I’ve been watching as people read it and it’s more effective than you’d think. A lot of the nose commandos will unconsciously tug their mask up; for those who don’t, I just stare at them and that usually works.

    5. Arts Akimbo*

      Ha, “nose commandos,” yes! I call them Nose Ninjas because their noses are sneaking out from under the mask.

  3. SBH*

    It’s not even complex. If you were running a business with food or medicine and employees refused to follow protocol they’d be gone by the end of the day. The only lag in this is culturally comprehension that it’s the exact same gat damn thing

    1. lke*

      Yeah, I see this as no different from requiring hats/hairnets and gloves on food service employees, or even making all Target employees wear khakis and a red polo. Masks are now part of the dress code/uniform for those working in-person.

      1. Claire*

        Right, moving slightly away from the workplace context, that’s why I’m so confused by the idea that the government can’t and shouldn’t force you to wear a mask in public–the government does already force you to cover parts of your body in public! If you have the absolute right not to cover parts of your body and you believe the government has no right to make laws to the contrary, then surely you think that laws against public nudity are tyrannical infringements on your rights?

        1. Orora*

          It makes zero sense that on female bodies (which, the last time I checked, do not actively spread disease) are somehow more dangerous than an unmasked person spewing germs with every exhale.

        2. Orora*

          It makes zero sense that areolas on female bodies (which, the last time I checked, do not actively spread disease) are somehow more dangerous than an unmasked person spewing germs with every exhale.

        3. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

          Hilariously, I’ve noted an almost complete overlap between those shouting about masks being tyranny, and those who feel that any nudity at all is a religious and cultural affront. Might just be where I live though.

          1. Rachel in NYC*

            Ironically enough, supposedly the NYPD do a reminder every summer that it’s okay, regardless of gender, to be topless in NYC.

            NY Court of Appeals found that the law stating that women exposing breasts below the “top of the areola” was a crime was gender discrimination.

            However, you do need to wear a mask.

            1. mimi me*

              I believe this. On one of my last trips to NYC I saw three topless women in Times Square standing near (but not interacting or afraid of) several NYPD officers. There were lots of outraged mothers shielding their babies from the boobies, but the police did not seem to be inclined to do anything. My son was 9 at the time and was fascinated by the topless women. LOL! In fact, I wouldn’t have noticed them if not for him pointing them out to me.

              1. AKchic*

                Alaska has this “issue” too. People will take pictures and stare and there is nothing legally wrong with people walking around topless, but the prudes and fanatics will hop up on their soapbox and try to moralize.

                1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

                  Yup. Its incredibly ironic that they’re so “concerned” about the children seeing something “immoral”, but they do not care enough about others to actually do something (wear a mask?) to provide protection to others from a real, not imagined, threat.

            2. Reluctant Manager*

              My otherwise progressive town passed an ordinance–on the ballot, I think–saying that women couldn’t be topless in public. It’s unconstitutional–the courts are clear that the government has no legitimate interest in treating women’s breasts differently than men’s.

        4. raktajino*

          In Oregon, public nudity is allowed as free speech (more or less, look up the guy who stripped down in the PDX airport a few years back). Yet the venn diagram of “uses nudity as a form of protest” and “refuses to wear a mask as a form of protest” is…not that overlapping around here.

        5. JSPA*

          Absolutely. Another person can interrupt or divert their gaze much more easily than they can stop breathing in my presence.

    2. Anax*

      I mean, heck, even outside those fields, “giving other employees and/or customers a legitimate concern for their own personal safety” would NORMALLY get someone fired, or at minimum significant and weighty reprimands. We’ve even seen that be politically charged before, with concealed carry – and I think most folks agree that “repeatedly carrying a gun on the clock, when your employer has forbidden it, and especially waving it around coworkers/customers” would be a fireable offense too, even if, say, it were a realistic plastic toy.

    3. Artemesia*

      exactly — think of it as a ‘hairnet’ requirement for the cafeteria, or a masking requirement and hand washing requirement for the nurse working with infectious patients — it is insubordination and the consequence should be firing if they refuse to comply with the standards.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Personally, I see it as a “wearing pants” (or however you cover your nether regions) requirement.

      2. Solana*

        I work with lab animals, so was already used to wearing a mask at work. Actually, with the face shields on top, I’m sneezing far less from the dust when putting food and bedding in cages.

        If someone tried to go into my biohazard room without a mask, I’d kick them out and report them no matter who it was. Biohazard is a privilege and a responsibility, and I rule it with a titanium fist.

        1. JustaTech*

          The number of times I’ve had some visitor come into my lab while I’m working with human blood and try to shake my gloved hand continues to horrify me. These are not random people, they’re service techs or people from other sites, or vendors who are trying to sell me some blood-related thing.

          And yet, out they stick their naked hand.
          Most recoil in horror when I wave and say “sorry, I’m working with a biohazard”, but every once in a while someone is offended.

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        My boss just states “it is part of the required protective gear for our job, and must be worn correctly.”
        Simple slip because you are talking a lot that is fixed as it’s slipping – she lets pass (unless it’s constantly slipping – then she has a chat with you about proper fit). Blatantly wearing it wrong – you get a write up for insubordination (because you are refusing to follow work procedures and guidelines). We used to have the mask refuser – he is long gone (fired for too many write ups for insubordination).

    4. Researcher*

      Yup. You don’t want to wear a hard hat on the construction site, you do not enter the construction site. It is that simple. You are welcome to believe that hard hats are infringing upon your personal freedoms, but if you want a paycheck, you wear the hard hat.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That phrase right there is one I think an office manager could use too. End it with “This mask is your hard hat.”

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, this.

      I’ve worked in both food service and for a veterinary hospital and if you don’t keep stuff clean, they fire you in a big hurry. As they should.

      My job is healthcare-adjacent and we haven’t had to argue with anyone about masks, thank goodness.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Sadly I am also health care adjacent- we used to have a mask refuser – but as I said above he is gone – fired for insubordination for refusing to correctly wear his mask.

  4. Cassidy*

    Great Slate piece, Alison. Besides, why do employers bother to have a policy if they’re not going to enforce it? Especially one that keeps themselves and their employees (and families) safe from possible *death.*

    And the “my right not to” wear a mask BS is exactly just that.


    1. Elenna*

      Sure, people have a right to not wear a mask. You know what other rights also exist? The right to fire people or kick them out of privately owned spaces, for not wearing the aforementioned mask…

      Maybe if more people would exercise the second right, we’d have less people exercising the first.

      1. Ophelia*

        I imagine there is rather significant overlap in the Venn diagram of the “it’s my right not to wear a mask” crew and those who pushed the “right to work” legislation that basically ensures they can be fired for, well, anything.

    2. Hil*

      Thank you!! I have a right not to spend all day staring at a laptop, writing code. No one in their right mind would ever argue I don’t have that right. No one in their right mind would ever argue me refusing to do so shouldn’t get me fired. It’s so simple.

    3. KaciHall*

      My employer has a policy that you have to wear a mask to enter the building. The exact wording is “governor Holcomb has required businesses to post a sign mandating masks be worn to enter this business.”

      It is a joke. Which, coincidentally, is what the owners think COVID is.

  5. Age of the Geek, Baby*

    One congressman died today. He contracted COVID-19, some speculate that it was because of the riot. So….. just want to point that out….
    Wear a mask, people.

    1. Whynot*

      It should be noted that Rep. Ron Wright, R-TX6, was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. I don’t know of his whereabouts during the Capitol insurrection and I don’t know how he contracted the disease. I do know that, wherever he contracted it, his underlying health conditions made his COVID illness especially dangerous.

      So, while I disagreed with nearly every aspect of Rep. Wright’s politics, I have compassion for his family at this time of loss and I sincerely hope that the news of his death helps others inside and outside Congress take COVID safety measures more seriously.

      1. The end of the pandemic is near :)*

        Covid and influenza kill people with underlying conditions – Covid at about ten times what influenza does. Trying to minimize it because “underlying conditions” is not helpful.

        1. MCMonkeybean*

          I thought that was where their comment was headed at first but on second read it seems like they are in agreement and are pointing out that because of the underlying conditions it is particularly egregious that his colleagues didn’t take Covid safety seriously. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how it reads to me.

    2. Artemesia*

      So two Republican congressmen have died of Covid this winter — one after his election but before he could take his seat. Just a hoax, nothing to see here.

        1. JM60*

          I don’t have a citation ATM, but I remember that as of about a month ago, all state and federal politicians who died of COVID were Republicans (out of a dozen or so deaths). Plus ~70% of COVID illnesses were Republicans. Taking the pandemic seriously makes a big difference.

          1. allathian*

            Well, at least it’s the folks who refuse to take precautions who die. Although because no precautions are 100 percent effective, their stupidity is still going to affect innocent bystanders as well.

            Just out of curiosity, what happens if a member of Congress dies during their term? Is there a new election or how is the successor determined?

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              It’s not uniform, as each state has their own rules about how to replace a Congressperson or Senator who for various reasons is unable to complete their term.

            2. Cassie*

              Vacancies in the House of Representatives can only be filled by election, per the Constitution – either a special election or the regularly scheduled election (depending on when the vacancy occurs).

              If there’s a vacancy in the Senate, most states (37 out of 50) allow their governor to appoint a replacement to serve until the next regularly scheduled statewide general election (the person who is elected in that general election serves out the remainder of the term, if there is any time left). 13 states require a special election (with some variation of when the special election needs to be held).

          2. RagingADHD*

            Considering the demographics & geographics of the communities that are hardest hit by covid, I find that highly unlikely.

            1. Masks rule*

              All the lists of state and federal politicians who have died of COVID that I’ve found do indeed seem to suggest that it’s the case that only Republican politicians have died so far. I don’t know if it’s true that 70% of politicians who became ill were also Republicans, though. If we were talking about deaths or illness in general, for sure that 70% number would be wild, but for the very specific subgroup of state and federal politicians? Passes the sniff test for me.

            2. JM60*

              It’s not unlikely when you consider how much one’s personal behavior increases their risk to not only be exposed to COVID, but to be exposed to large doses of COVID for extended period of time. Being exposed to COVID in passing when wearing a mask because someone in line behind you at a grocery store caught COVID means you’ll probably only ingest a small amount of virus particles. If you’re at a dinner party with someone who has COVID, you’ll probably ingest a lot more virus particles and are a lot more likely to overwhelm your immune system.

          3. Janet Alcorn*

            Not a citation for your specific info but related: an article in Nature Human Behavior from November, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-020-00977-7, reports the results of a study of cell phone data indicating (quoted from the abstract), “US counties that voted for Donald Trump (Republican) over Hillary Clinton (Democrat) in the 2016 presidential election exhibited 14% less physical distancing between March and May 2020… Additionally, county-level consumption of conservative media (Fox News) was related to reduced physical distancing. Finally, the observed partisan differences in distancing were associated with subsequently higher COVID-19 infection and fatality growth rates in pro-Trump counties.”

        2. Boof*

          He did? I’m not really on his political side but, IDK, I was interested in him at one point in my life. Sad.

    3. kittymommy*

      I thought of this as well. I remember after the riot that some Democrat congressmen (some who had cancer/immunocompromised) were talking how they asked some of their Republican colleagues to wear a mask while they were hiding together and their request was refused.

        1. MCMonkeybean*

          Yes, it’s infuriating to watch. They look so smug and this one woman in particular looks like she’s trying not to openly laugh in the faces of those trying to hand them masks.

      1. JM60*

        It looks like he had cancer for a while, but also got COVID. Sometimes people die due to a combination of multiple diseases causing complications. People with cancer are often at high risk for COVID.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If you have cancer and you get COVID and die, the COVID killed you. The cancer might eventually kill you, but it counts as a COVID death.

          Folks with any kind of compromised lung function are extra-vulnerable. My friend’s husband has (very well-managed) CF and he has not left the house in months. Lucky for him, they can both can work from home. And she not only wears masks (she’s a nursing school instructor) but she was making and giving them away during the PPE shortage.

          1. Loredena Frisealach*

            My husband has COPD, and I have asthma and a susceptibility to bronchitis. We went into lockdown last March and I’ve told my managers that they’ll see me in an office when we *both* have had vaccines. Fortunately that’s an option for me, I feel awful for those it’s not. I’ve accumulated an impressive collection of masks too!

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Yup – I have one go-worker who is still WFH (we can only do about 1/5 of our job from home, so into the office we go – masked up of course!
            He can’t wear an in his face mask because of severe asthma- so when he has no choice but to go out – he made his own special mask out of a converted beekeeper’s hood. He took a standard beekeeper hood and replaced the mesh sections with visor plastic. It allows him to wear his oxygen if necessary, and he is still masked.

            If he can do it – others can find a way to make a mask that works too.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Beekeeper approves. (former, amateur)
              If your colleague is willing to share a photo, I’d share that.

    4. JM60*

      I just want to point out that people who are in a certain party that isn’t taking this pandemic seriously seem to be getting COVID, and dying of COVID, at a much higher rate than those taking the pandemic seriously. I looked up the congressman who died today, and wasn’t surprised by his political affiliation. These tragic deaths are unnecessary and can be greatly minimized by measures that should have bipartisan support.

      1. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

        The congressman played stupid games and paid with his life. I’ll save my sympathy for the people who deserve it.

        1. JSPA*

          If you’re referencing a specific act or stance, say so. But if you’re presuming that all people of a particular party are all playing “stupid games,” that has no place here. Ditto if you’re assuming he got it Jan 6th. He tested positive on the 21st, and says he was in the presence of someone who tested positive “the week before.” And, he was in chemo for lung cancer, so presuming he was yucking it up in public is unwarranted speculation at best.

          1. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

            He was a member of the GOP, have you been watching the news for the last 11 months? That’s all that needs to be said.

            1. Masks rule*

              It’s actually not, even a little bit. I am strongly left-leaning politically, but I recognize, as should any reasonable person, that there are plenty of people who don’t share all my political convictions with whom I might agree on other issues. For example, Mitt Romney and I agree on very little, but his pro-mask stance is one that I share. I think it’s fair to say he’s a member of the Republican party.

              1. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

                He was a Texas GOP-er. A racist, stupid old fool, who tried to argue against the free election. Who got in bed with anti-mask vermin. A worthless man who got exactly what was coming to him.

  6. Lynn*


    It has always seemed short-sighted to me that employers don’t mandate masks more strictly — so that they don’t upset a vocal few at risk of losing long term productivity because employees keep getting sick or having to quarantine? Everyone should have a vested interest in keeping everyone else safe and healthy… at the very least so you don’t have to end up doing their work while they are out.

  7. anonymous just in case*

    Fervently hoping that my employer — a large university — follows through on sanctions for students who don’t comply.

    I’m able to teach online (I hate it, but it’s safest for everyone). I have colleagues who have inperson classes (labs, studios, etc) and they are beside themselves with students who “forget” and don’t comply with safety requirements.

    1. cat lady*

      also faculty here, though fortunately only online. First, total sympathy for your colleagues who have to teach in person– that really sucks. If they aren’t already, can they tie the safety standards to attendance or participation grades? No mask = leave the class, and you’re getting marked absent, in my book.

      1. Tin Cormorant*

        100% this. Maybe have a box of masks near the door so they have no excuse of “sorry, I was in such a hurry I forgot to bring it”. Grab a mask and put it on or get out of my classroom.

    2. Justme, The OG*

      I do know that some universities have added it to their sanction policies but I don’t know how strongly they are enforced or what the repercussions are for not following the rule.

    3. Medievalist*

      I’m teaching in-person on a private college campus right now—and oddly enough, when an employer is prepared to hold people (both employees and students, as well as the general public) accountable to its mask policy… people DO wear masks. My college empowers faculty to kick out any students or guests not wearing a mask and to use campus security to remove someone from campus entirely if they try to act like Bob in the story that Alison quotes; as a result, we have a strong culture of mask-wearing and it has become easy to give people a gentle reminder if a nose slips out of a mask, etc.

      Masks aren’t really that hard; with a little enforcement, people can adapt and everyone is safer. I hope other employers get on board with enforcing consequences.

      1. Volcano*

        I teach at a (very conservative) campus (my lectures are over Zoom, but my labs are in person), and my experience has (thankfully) been like Medievalist. In my classroom? You are masked, and if you argue or try to get around my rules, my department, college, and university back me up. Our indoor mask-compliance is excellent! I think that once the administration showed it was willing to enforce the rule, all the students realized there was no point in fighting it.

        And if that’s what it takes to get compliance, then management needs to step up!!

    4. Nesprin*

      It’s pretty easy to make your students wear masks- It’s the same problem as making students wear safety goggles. I’ve been assigning significant points for “showed up on time with correct PPE” for years, and my students thus tend to be pretty good, and if they’re not good, they don’t tend to pass.

      1. Blackcat*

        In my high school chem class, failure to properly wear goggles resulted in two choices: 1) Taking a zero for the lab or 2) Standing on a lab bench and singing a “Goggles protect your eyeballs” song. Zero for the lab was a big deal, so people chose the public humiliating route. It worked.

        1. Jerusha*

          Um. Did they have to compose one extemporaneously, or was there an existing “goggles protect your eyeballs” song that they had to perform? Asking for a… friend, that’s it! Asking for a friend!

    5. katertot*

      I would hope that with labs especially you could enforce this a little easier- we always had to wear closed- toed shoes to lab- yes, it is your right to wear open toe shoes but it’s a safety concern and students had to leave if you didn’t have them- there was no gray area- closed toe or you couldn’t participate.

    6. Forensic13*

      I’m teaching online for various reasons, one of which is what I’ve told some of my students—I used to work in sterile manufacturing, so I have NO chill about this subject or any of its excuses. If I were teaching in person, I would have been a huge bully. I just made a student put her mask back on when we were video-chatting because I could tell she was in the library and not in her room, when she briefly tried to pull it down to talk more clearly.

    7. Chilipepper*

      My spouse is back to teaching in person at a university starting last month. They plan on asking any student not wearing a mask to leave, the class is online and the students can take advantage of that if they don’t want to wear a mask.

    8. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Ugh – seriously college kids. If my pre-kindergartner can wear a mask for school (all four hours they are there) then you can suck it up and put the mask on for a college class.

      1. allathian*

        Yup, this.

        Of course, for pre-kindergarteners it’s easier, because they don’t remember much about pre-Covid times. If their parents and teachers mask up without complaining about it in their hearing, they’ll learn that it’s a normal thing and nothing to make a fuss about.

        I really feel for our high school students who are distance learning at the moment. They had no prom or graduation last year or this year. Here, the prom is in your junior year. They’re missing out on some transitional rituals of HS life and they’re never going to experience those like other cohorts have. A year also seems much longer to an adolescent or young adult than it does to a middle-aged person. Some kids are really suffering and there’s already talk about a lost generation. I just hope they’ll get the vaccinations going in earnest. Not that it’s going to change things instantly, but there’ll at least be some hope of a more in-person existence in the future.

    9. Chinook*

      I understand and agree with sanctions for those that don’t comply, but what about (the small) group that can’t comply? Is there a way for those monitoring compliance to give leeway when required or people to advocate for themselves without being humiliated.

      I am thinking about those who cannot put on a mask by themselves (think arm/shoulder/hand issues – one Paralympian in BC made a public plea for compassion because she can’t put on a mask because her hands don’t reach her face) or can’t wear one due to physical disfigurement. Or those with breathing issues who, when things were normal, would never had considered a profession that required masking up because they had difficulty breathing now have no other option if they want to go anywhere.

      True, this is a very small population, but policies should be in place that allow for exemptions when common sense requires it.

      1. Self Employed*

        Straw man argument.

        All the mask policies I’ve seen have an exemption for people who can’t wear a mask safely or take it off easily in an emergency. I’ve heard so many stories about people claiming to have disabilities that make them so ill they can’t wear a mask (but they still want to shop in a store instead of being terrified they’ll catch COVID like my disabled friends are) but nothing about someone with a really obvious reason not to wear one (such as not being able to reach your ears) being fined. Offering curbside pickup is a reasonable accommodation because they have no obligation to provide an accommodation that puts others at risk. (Same idea as asking someone with a service dog that misbehaves to leave the dog outside or use curbside pickup.)

  8. lilsheba*

    I fully agree….anyone who is anti mask doesn’t need to work there, I wouldn’t want my safety compromised at all.

  9. BlueWolf*

    I’m curious why companies are so deferential to people who refuse to follow safety protocols? Most employment in the U.S. is at-will, so there’s no reason most employers couldn’t fire these people. Give them one warning, and then fire them if they don’t comply. It’s just mind-boggling to me.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      My uncharitable guess based on the likely demographics of the anti-mask people is that they are working low paid, high physical labor positions and the companies know they wouldn’t be able to find replacement workers they could take advantage of so easily.

      1. KayEss*

        I think it may actually be the opposite—a lot of white-collar workers like “Bob” who have never had workplace safety drilled into them.

    2. Dave*

      The owner of the small business where I work would literally need to fire approximately half the company if masks and other protocols were enforced as required by local laws. They have taken the risk of not fully enforcing but occasionally going on a rampage if there is a close call or someone has a family member who has it or was exposed. The ray of light for me in this is the owner has kept me away from the idiots and my expectations for in person activities are extremely low and usually I have control over them. (ie I choose to meet with some clients and pick the who and when or pawn the meeting off on someone else if I think it won’t be safe.)

      As we move into vaccinations I grow concerned that more people that barely tolerated masks and social distancing before will go around with out them and go back to invading my personal bubble. While the vaccines seem largely effective (against most strains at least) they aren’t 100% so this is all going to be with us for awhile.

      1. mimi me*

        All it takes is to fire a few. News spreads. People who need the job will mask up, even if they hate it, if they know that people who refused to wear masks got fired for not wearing them. And honestly, if I owned a business where half my work force thought they got to call the shots over workplace safety, I’d be putting “Now Hiring” ads everywhere!

        1. PT*

          And if you’re in an area where the sorts of people who’d apply for those jobs are generally in the anti-mask crowd, you are going to chew through a lot of new employees because once they start working you’ll start getting mask pushback.

          1. Jerusha*

            Make it clear during the interview process: Our policy is that you wear a mask at work, and that you will continue to do so until we announce that the policy has changed. We have fired employees for violating this policy; if you fail to comply with the policy you will be fired immediately. If you don’t think that you will be willing/able to comply with our policy, well, it was lovely talking to you, and the exit door is right over *there*.

        2. JSPA*

          If you fire only a few, it’s hard to argue that it’s for non-compliance with the masks rule. After all, you probably, in choosing, will first fire those who you’ll miss least in other ways!

          Unpaid suspension is a good tool, though. In most circumstances you can suspend people without pay for health and safety reasons, either short-term or long-term. Doing that with a bunch of people is much less disruption to the business than firing. Start with two days. If that’s too much like a vacation, try a week.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And I’d put it right into the ad to let them self-select out: “Must follow all safety regulations including mask.”

      2. Chilipepper*

        New neighbor bragged about cutting the line to get his vaccinations and is happy because now he does not need to wear a mask around is 80+ year old parents. I did tell him that he can still spread it but won’t get sick or so sick himself but . . .

        1. pancakes*

          No one told him to look at CDC guidance on this, which is to continue wearing a mask and social distancing after getting vaccinated? It’s terrible how many people are satisfied with their own uninformed guesswork on something as important as protecting their elderly parents. They must know, on some level, that they’ve never bothered to seek out information, and therefore aren’t likely to be well-informed? Apparently many people don’t question themselves in that way at all, though.

    3. AskJeeves*

      I think there are a few reasons: 1) employers don’t understand the law and are afraid of lawsuits/discrimination claims, 2) managers get rules handed down from corporate but can’t be bothered to enforce them because they personally don’t care or don’t believe the risk is real, and 3) the company wants rules on paper as a CYA but doesn’t want the headache of actual enforcement and complaints from anti-mask jerks, so turns a blind eye.

      1. Self Employed*

        That’s how my apartment management is handling it. Send stern memos to all tenants mandating masks in the common areas (as required by Public Health authorities here) but don’t say anything if you see them loitering around without one, or their friends taking off masks in the elevator. I complained about this to the manager who was working from home because he’s high risk, and when someone complained to Public Health, he got a lawyer to send me a threatening letter claiming I was lying about the company to public officials with the intent to change their business practices and should move out if I don’t want people breathing COVID all over me.

        And yes, it is legal for them to do that. I’ve checked with a couple of lawyers in landlord-tenant law.

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          “should move out if I don’t want people breathing COVID all over me.”

          They put that in writing (even in more mild language)? I doubt the letter was drafted by a competent lawyer.

          1. Self Employed*

            They didn’t specifically mention COVID but they did tell me they were not going to make any changes and I should vacate by 12/31/20.

    4. MsClaw*

      There are places that fire aggressively, but a quick breeze through the archives here will show that some workplaces are shockingly slow to fire even for outrageous behavior. My office has definitely been tiptoeing around the nonmaskers, sending out blanket reminders to the whole team instead of just telling the people in violation to either mask up or find a new job.

    5. Mookie*

      Possibly because the realist/denier schism tracks remarkably well with which employees are already otherwise invested in safe and equitable working conditions versus those who cause less Good Trouble for employers. In the short term, the former will balk at weak mask policies but that can only hold for so long if nothing’s done; many desperate people will still quit a job that can kill them, so there’s one less agitator on staff. On the other side, deniers will pitch a fit that has little to do with employers’s responsibilities towards their employees and everything to do with vice-signaling and cries for liberation. I know which squeaky wheel will generally get tended to.

  10. WellRed*

    Where was I just reading an article about some state legislature that says it can’t enforce masks but it is able to enforce the “no jeans” rule? There need to be consequences, from not being able to participate fully in the office place (if that’s important to you) right down to firing.

    1. Tbubui*

      It’s like schools in my province saying they can’t possibly force kids to wear masks. As I recall, they forced girls to go home for showing their shoulders or wearing shorts that were above the knee so I don’t see why they can’t do the same for kids that don’t wear masks.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Exactly. “We can’t force teenagers to wear masks!” Oh, but you can force a girl to go home if you decide her tank top shows too much shoulder? What’s the difference? (Just kidding. I know exactly what the difference is.)

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I was in high school in 2000, when wearing a triangle-shaped hair kerchief was in fashion for girls. I got sent to the office one day with three of my friends, where we were all reprimanded for “wearing gang paraphernalia” (I think my hair scarf was pink with purple flowers that day, not sure what gang they thought I was representing). But sure, high schools, go ahead and say you can’t enforce mask mandates.

        1. whingedrinking*

          The one legitimate thing I can think of is that masks are readily taken off and put back on, as opposed to short skirts and low-cut tops, and you can’t keep students under the eye of a teacher 100% of the time. I’ve studied and worked in immersive language education – you can make a one-language rule and enforce it as best you can, but people will still speak their L1 as soon as they think there’s no faculty around. (Yelling “Teachers pee too!” from a bathroom stall during break time and hearing the torrent of Korean/Spanish/Arabic etc. stop suddenly is actually quite funny.)
          That said, not being able to get perfect compliance at all times doesn’t mean that you can’t have a rule and do your best to enforce it. If students are masked and distanced even just while they’re in a classroom and teachers are patrolling hallways and common areas, that’s better than just letting everybody constantly breathe all over each other.

      3. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Like heck you can’t. It’s a discipline issue and you treat it as such. Yes, after five months of in person teaching I’m mightily sick of saying ‘Mask please!’ 20 times a day, but the kids do comply.

    2. Me*

      Yep in Iowa. The house speaker has said he can’t enforce a mask rule but jeans violate the dress code and he refused to allow a lawmaker to speak because of it. She intentionally wore jeans to prove a point.

      It’s not a matter of can’t it’s a matter of want.

      1. Chilipepper*

        I will say that my employer has added masks as part of the dress code. They still don’t enforce it the way they should (all the coworkers going nose commando!!) but they did make it part of policy.

  11. Colorado*

    I have to wear safety shoes if I go into the warehouse, cleanroom attire in the manufacturing suites, safety glasses and coats in the labs. I will jeopardize safety and compliance if I don’t, which will lead to disciplinary action and being fired. Why is a mask any different? People – just put the damn mask on and stop acting like your right are being so violated.

    1. irene adler*

      Yes exactly!
      Like the requirement for wearing a hardhat. Sure, nothing may never fall on ya, but the one time something does, you’ll be glad you wore the hardhat for protection.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And for people who say masks aren’t worth it bc they’re not 100% effective? Neither are hard hats if something big enough falls from high enough–and we still wear them.

    2. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. It’s safety equipment. We have not had community spread of COVID and I think it’s partially due to strict mask use. We had to have a few firm reminders in the beginning (the CEO was very clear) but it’s been good since, and many people are also now double masking. Failure to mask up can get you fired. There’s just no excuse, especially when masks are provided.

    3. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “Why is a mask any different? ”

      Because of liberals thinking hey know best, and poor people wanting handouts, and how dare they say we voted for a racist, and don’t take our guns, and scientists are just out for themselves, and lower taxes and stop government overreach. Freedom.

      Really. The leader of one political party political party politicized the issue, and that was it.

  12. HR Exec Popping In*

    We treat the violation of COVID safety rules (masks, social distancing, not coming to work if you have any symptoms or may have come into contact with someone with COVID) like any other workplace safety rule. If you don’t follow the rules, you will be disciplined. If you continue to violate the rules you will be terminated. COVID is a serious safety issue for employees and the company. Would you discipline your forklift driver for speeding down the corridor? Would you discipline your food service worker for not wearing a hairnet? Would you discipline your line operator for putting their hand beyond a safety shield on equipment? The rules we have put in place to keep our workplace safe from COVID are exactly the same thing and need to be treated that way.

    1. Sharon*

      Yes, I agree completely. I wonder if the disconnect is that many offices aren’t subject to frequent health and safety inspections and office managers are aren’t used to enforcing these kinds of safety rules the way industrial supervisors routinely do?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Could be, but they can get it if it’s phrased correctly. It’s an OSHA issue and unprofessional for me to kick off my shoes under my desk then walk across the office onto an elevator, right? Same with that mask.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          I remember seeing dress codes for office jobs that specified closed-toe shoes. In my 20’s, I always assumed it was just about enforcing formality levels (and back in the 80’s that was still a pretty big thing). I never thought about foot safety at all.

    2. Self Employed*

      Well, Chipotle doesn’t seem to care if employees follow food safety rules because they can blame foodborne illness on using “fresh organic ingredients” that are “cooked to order” and apparently assume their target market has no experience at real restaurants to know that food safety rules prevent illness if you follow them throughout the supply chain.

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        I think the infections we exclusively or almost exclusively among Republicans until the January 6 insurrection, during which a lot of congresspeople had to spend time together, breathing deeply in fear, with unmasked Republicans.

  13. Pipe Organ Guy*

    I get to work from home most of the week, and go in to the office only if there’s a problem I absolutely can’t solve remotely, and to practice. If I’m on-site, I’m masked. Fortunately my coworkers also stay masked. I stay masked even when I’m practicing in the empty church (not easy or comfortable, but very doable!). I have no doubt, though, that if I had to deal with a coworker who refused to wear a mask, I would be fully supported in pushing back.

    1. Oxford Comma*

      Why are you politicizing Covid-19 @Anonymous Always? It kills people regardless of their political affiliations.

    2. ElizabethJane*

      Great. Alison’s point still stands. She did not say “Republicans who refuse to wear masks should be fired” she said “Employees who refuse to wear masks should be fired”.

    3. Frank Doyle*

      Okay? And those people were irresponsible jerks too. Don’t worry, we’re angry at EVERYBODY who refuses to wear a mask, no matter who they voted for.

  14. Anonariffic*

    Apologies for the long copypasta, but this is too relevant not to share here and I only have it saved on my phone as an image. Don’t know the original source.

    “Welcome to the Freedom Cafe!

    We trust you to make your own choices if you want to wear a face mask. And, in the same spirit of individual liberty, we allow our staff make their own choices about the safety procedures they prefer to follow as they prepare and serve your food.

    We encourage employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom, but understand that some people may be allergic to certain soaps or may simply prefer not to wash their hands. It is not our place to tell them what to do.

    We understand that you may be used to chicken that has been cooked to 165 degrees. We do have to respect that some of our cooks may have seen a meme or a YouTube video saying that 100 degrees is fine and we do not want to encroach on their beliefs.

    Some servers may wish to touch your food as they serve it. There is no reason that a healthy person with clean hands can’t touch your food. We will take their word for it that they are healthy and clean.

    Water temperature and detergent are highly personal choices, and we allow our dishwashing team to decide how they’d prefer to wash the silverware you will put in your mouth. Some of you may get sick, but almost every one survives food poisoning. We think you’ll agree that it’s a small price to pay for the sweet freedom of no one ever being told what to do and especially not for the silly reason of keeping strangers healthy.

    – Kathony Jerauld”

    1. Dana Lynne*

      FYI the actual author of the piece is Libby Jones.

      I tracked down the publication when I began including this piece for my students who were learning about satire.

      Jerauld offered it in a letter to the editor, but the author is Jones.

      And I agree it’s brilliant.

  15. Elenia*

    I went to Walmart the other day and four people were still walking around with masks fully pulled down.
    I hate people so much.
    I agree with this post, we should be firing people.

  16. AndersonDarling*

    This isn’t any different that a company changing time clock processes and employees now need to clock in and out using a new system. There is always someone trying to resist change:
    “I forgot my password”
    “I was too busy to clock in”
    “The PC didn’t let me clock-in”
    But we all know that the individual just doesn’t want to follow rules. Do you want someone on your team that is going to make excuses every time a process changes?
    If someone refuses to clock in and out, they get a warning and then eventually fired. It doesn’t matter if the new rule is clocking in/out, using a security badge, changing reports blue, or using a face mask. If the company makes a rule, then you follow it if you want to work there.

  17. sherSher*

    we were just informed that failure to wear a mask is punishable by firing. it is not a negotiable point.

        1. sherSher*

          LOL Fortunately we are not all in much yet. When I was in last week (before the new rule was shared) 1 of the 5 people I saw did not have on a mask. I told him to put one on and he said, I have one at my desk. Sigh. In light of this new rule, I will next time follow up with, So go put it on. I did hear that someone was fired for failure to comply, so yay!

          1. irene adler*

            Management is “putting their money where there mouth is” so to speak! Good!
            It’s not just talk.
            Yeah, that mask is gonna do the desk a whole lotta good.

  18. Cordoba*

    The great part about treating masks as mandatory safety equipment is that it makes somebody’s beliefs in their efficacy or necessity a non-issue.

    An employee who operates a drill press is welcome to *believe* that the risk of getting a metal chip in their eye is a just a made-up liberal plot, or that safety glasses don’t help to reduce the risk of metal chips anyway. Despite this, they either put safety glasses on their face or they don’t have a job.

    People can think whatever they want about safety gear, as long as they wear it correctly anyway.

    1. whingedrinking*

      Yup. I can maintain that I teach just as well in jeans and a t-shirt as in dress slacks and a sweater, but if my boss says “No jeans”, I shrug and wear annoying pants with no pockets. It’s not the end of the world.

  19. Brett*

    One of the huge issues for my employer ended up being “which masks”.
    Masks vary so widely to the level where some are completely ineffective. And some people wanted to wear face shields in place of masks.

    They ended up narrowing in on a standard that no one was allowed to bring their own mask into the office with zero exceptions. Bringing in your own mask would get you sent home.
    Instead, masks are supplied at the front door of every building by a security guard and you must wear that mask, and only that mask, your entire time in the office. Face shields are barred unless needed for a different safety purpose and used in conjunction with a work issued mask. If you end up needing to replace your mask for any reason (wet, torn, etc), you must return to security immediately and acquire a new mask from them.
    Not complying gets you sent home, and possibly banned from the office. If you cannot work from home, then you no longer are paid.

    On top of that, before you can even enter the office in the first place, you must go through two training classes on safety precautions and agree to those as a condition of entering the office. This includes the mask protocols.
    (One of the minor side effects with this is that the chosen mask type is extremely painful for people with attached earlobes and completely impossible if you are missing an ear or have a similar problem. I am not sure how this problem is being dealt with.)

    1. Temperance*

      There are “ear savers” headbands that have little buttons on them which you can attach masks to.

    2. Dave*

      I like this use our mask policy to a certain amount. It is even more aggravating then arguing about wearing a mask because there is at least legal backing where I live to arguing about that isn’t a real mask or you aren’t wearing it correctly so it doesn’t count.

    3. Yes*

      People with (or without) ear conditions – including behind-the-ear hearing aids that fall off easily when they’re competing for space with a mask elastic – can use so-called ear-savers. Basically, rather than attaching the mask to your ear, you attach it to a hook behind your head. A couple of paperclips strung together can do in a pinch, or you can order something online (search “Earsaver”) or you can sew two buttons onto a strip of cloth.

      You can have the hook behind your head between your ears, but you can also have it more to the top of your head (with both ends of the elastic going above your ears) or in your neck (with both ends of the elastic below your ears).

      To easily put them on, first hook one elastic to the device, then put the mask to your face, then hook the other elastic to the device.

      1. UKDancer*

        There are a fair few other designs available now on etsy, including the behind the head variety.

        I saw a good BBC article about a lady in Australia making a modified version to fit over a Sikh turban and I was very impressed with her ingenuity.

      2. Brett*

        I just looked at this and they would really help, and I think would work with the chosen mask design. They will need to modify the policy to account for those (because the policy about _how_ masks must be worn goes into much more detail than I listed here and would not allow for ear-savers right now).

        1. Elizabeth West*

          As long as the mask completely covers the nose and mouth if worn with the ear-saver, it should be okay. That could be added to the policy.

          1. Brett*

            The policy specifies how you must wear the loops, how long the top and bottom elastic sections should be, when and how you have to put the mask on, when and how you can remove it, etc. You actually have to put the mask on in front of a security person who verifies that you do it correctly before you are allowed in the rest of the building.
            (e.g. you cannot touch the mask with your hands while putting it on or remove it, only the straps.)

            1. Roci*

              I suppose you don’t use masks with nose wire then? That would require touching the top to adjust it…

            2. allathian*

              Most masks are designed for male faces and few women can wear a mask comfortably unless they have a face wire. Same thing goes for Asians, who generally have less prominent noses than Caucasian males. Face wires are also essential if you’re wearing glasses, because they prevent fogging at least a little bit. So while the policy is better than not requiring a mask, it’s a bit draconian. At the very least, it should accommodate ear savers. I hope you can advocate for that.

              Also, if you sanitize your hands both before putting the mask on and immediately afterwards, touching the top of the mask to adjust the wire is pretty safe and can do a lot to make the mask less uncomfortable to wear.

            3. Bagpuss*

              I wonder about other issues too – both I, and another colleague who also has asthma, found we couldn’t wear the disposable masks which our office bought for work, because there’s something (not sure if it is a chemical used in the manufacture, or what) in/on them which triggers our asthma.
              My coworker initially thought that she couldn’t wear masks at all, I suggested she try some other types to see as I had already worked out (having been masking up by choice before it became a requirement) that it was that specific type of mask, not masks in general, which were a problem for me, and when she tried she was able to find others which did work.
              (I typically use a 3 layer fabric mask with a filter insert, but the only way I can get them to fit properly is having ones which go round my head rather than over my ears, and which have a nose wire)

              I can see that your employer is taking it seriously but do wonder whether the upshot of their policy is that they are putting some people in a lot more discomfort, and leaving them with less protection, than necessary.

              1. Meyers and Briggs were not real doctors*

                Doesn’t this open up a company for liability if folks have to then surrender medical information in order to bring their own mask/medical device? I mean, it’s not my employer’s business what kind of mask I absolutely have to wear due to personal health problems. Be it skin, ear, asthma, brain injury in my case, or whatever the the medical reason. Which, none of that is my employers business. And I would b afraid my job is on the chopping block by feeling forced to inform them; the fear of being labeled not a “healthy person,” or not a “team player.”

                Clearly any employer can make it’s own health policies, but they may not be good or even legal policies. Thankfully we have Alison here to help with that!

                I’m seeing a lot of ableism (and classism) with the mask mandates, but we’re being shouted down if we bring it up, even here, but I spose this isn’t a post regarding the ADA (Americans with disabilities act) , so I just wanted to bring this up regarding a work setting and how to legally work around that?

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      My employer requires masks, and has a box at the door if you’ve forgotten yours. And yet there’s one particular person who I’ve seen wandering into her office maskless because “oops, I forgot it in the car!” and when she does wear a mask, it’s a face shield (which is completely ineffective) and it just makes me SO. ANGRY.

      1. bleh*

        I see idiots in the store with a shield and I want to stab them I get so angry – but I won’t get close enough because you know. Kill yourself all you want, but stop trying to kill everyone else to buddy.

          1. J@*

            I assume they mean a plastic shield that covers the face but is open at the bottom. (Link to image in reply.) These have been useful in conjunction with a mask for people who work in medical settings or with small children who have a chance of getting coughed on or whatever. But they don’t do much when you use them without a proper mouth covering, since they’re open to the bottom and have air flow.

    5. Filosofickle*

      Requiring company-provided masks probably is an ideal way to go, it solves a bunch of problems including affordability. On the flip side, I’m glad i don’t have that situation because very few masks fit me well. I have to find ones that run smaller / shorter or they ride up to my eyeballs.

  20. anonToday*

    One thing we need to remember is that these are imperfect measures, so using them as much as we can is protecting us more, but of course we aren’t perfectly safe. People who are refusing to use the imperfect measures like masks and social distancing are endangering others.

    I’ve been very, very careful (live alone, work from home, usually get curbside takeout for groceries, wear a mask on the rare times I go in a store, etc.), and I still got what I think was the flu (I quarentined for 14 days after, to be safe). We’re not 100% safe even when we’re careful, and people who are ignoring the safety rules about this are making things much worse for everyone.

    1. Self Employed*

      A friend of mine lost her husband even though both worked from home and only left for grocery shopping. She would run in and shop, he would sit in the car… with the windows rolled down on unseasonably hot days. He got COVID and died.

        1. Self Employed*

          She did not have COVID. Originally she was wracked with guilt because she assumed she had it and gave it to him–but her test was negative and she wasn’t sick.

  21. Some Internet Rando*

    I would love to see how people would feel about having a surgeon refuse to wear gloves and gown because it interferes with their freedom!!

    1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Oregon suspended a doctor’s license for refusing to wear a mask while seeing patients during the pandemic, and telling his staff they shouldn’t wear masks.

      I don’t remember whether he was a surgeon, though.

    2. Lady Heather*

      I think the doctor that first suggested doctors should wash hands was fired and possibly exiled, actually. It wasn’t until a few years after his death that someone else did manage to convince the medical community. Around 1860 I think – I’ll find a link, to follow.

    3. Hlyssande*

      Reminds me of the bit in one of the early episodes of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman where she told the barber to clean his razor before using it on another person and sarcastically wiped it off on his sleeve and demanded if that was good enough.

    4. Tired of Covid-and People*

      I had an NP in a CARDIOLOGY clinic come in the exam room unmasked. After getting over my shock, I insisted that she mask up. But I switched facilities after that, filed a complaint too. It was clinic policy and she violated it, don’t know if she is still on staff there or not. Employees don’t get to cherry pick which rules they comply with.

  22. Paris Geller*

    This is one thing I feel like my organization has handled well from the start. Masks are required on-site, and failure to wear one will be met with disciplinary measures (up to and including termination if actions are not taken to correct the behavior).

  23. Bob*

    I agree.

    Employees are fired for far less, from the whims of the manager to protected classes (sometimes disguised and sometimes not) and even to net the CEO one more ivory backscratcher.

    This is life and death, infecting people and murdering some of them out of ideology does not deserve to be coddled.

  24. MaskUnderTheNoseDoesn'tWork!*

    I live in Colorado, which I thought was generally a pretty “mask friendly” state. Our numbers are lower than many states, though that’s not saying much in the US. My husband is a grocery worker, so he’s out in public every day (though extremely early in the morning — he’s a vendor, so he starts work around 3AM). Well – I went to the grocery store on Friday night and found nearly half of the customers were either not wearing masks, or it was under their nose. I asked three different people to pull up their mask and received hostile responses (and not one pulled up their masks). I spoke to the store manager, and he told me that 1) the large grocery chain corporate policy is that they can’t enforce their posted mask mandate, and 2) mask compliance is completely different in the morning hours. So – lesson learned – I’m only shopping before 10AM when I have to shop at all. And that people are generally selfish and crazy.

    1. Cordoba*

      I assume that the people who don’t know enough to put their masks over their nose do most of their breathing through their mouths, anyway.

      1. Clumsy Ninja*

        I actually assume that those who don’t bother to pull up their masks over their noses are quite happy to breathe freely from their nose and feel that this “makes it easier to breathe in a mask.”

        That said, I hope that you’re right.

        1. Tired of Covid-and People*

          These people enrage me as they are engaging in performative mask wearing. Part of the problem is that Covid education has been woefully lacking, in that people don’t get that respiration is via the nose and mouth and Covid particles can be released by both orifices. Anybody near me with the damn mask pulled down is getting told “you need to pull that mask over your nose it’s not doing any good like that” and I don’t care how they react. I feel assaulted by bare noses. These non-enforcers are just punks, they enforce what they want.

      2. Anonollama*

        Not 100% sure if that’s “mouthbreather” snark (though I suspect so :( ) but fwiw I mouth breathe since my nose is 3/4 plugged all the time due to chronic allergies. But if I sneeze it still goes out ALL the airways so the mask has to go over both.

        And, just fyi, I’m not a big fan of that particular insult since it comes across as ableist.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      My kid works in retail. My city has a mask ordinance. There’s a sign on the door of her store saying “masks required.” But the corporate office refuses to let its staff actually enforce that ordinance. She could literally lose her job for asking someone to follow the city’s ordinance and the sign on the door of her workplace telling customers they need to wear a mask.

      1. The cat came back....*

        A friend of mine lost his job at Home Depot for asking a customer to wear a mask. His wife was immune compromised but if he had to work to keep a roof over their heads.

        1. Self Employed*

          Which is why it’s unconscionable we haven’t had income replacement throughout the pandemic.

          I’ve done a few shifts textbanking for a group that’s asking registered Democrats to push their congresscritters to support housing relief and other measures. I’ve had multiple people tell me that if they worked through the pandemic, caught COVID and gave it to their family, nobody has the right to expect to keep their housing if they didn’t work and won’t get a job now.

          And we wonder why the positivity rate in LA is around 1 in 5 people…

      2. Tired of Covid-and People*

        I will never, ever understand this. Maybe report to OSHA? Store workers are being exposed to unsafe working conditions.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I have sympathy for store owners and employees who are stuck having a policy they can’t enforce, considering the massive violent overreactions that can happen. No one should end up maimed or killed for asking someone to wear a mask properly.

      That said, I’m grateful that our large grocery store has hired ‘greeters’ to stand by the mask policy sign (no admittance without masks) at the front entrance, since those greeters would make excellent bar bouncers under different circumstances.

      1. Blackcat*

        I watched a teenage barista try to get a *cop* to put on a mask. I felt awful for her. The cop got up in her face and told her she couldn’t tell him what to do.
        And… there is nothing to do. Our police leadership will not enforce masks on cops, so the cops do as they please :(

      2. OyHiOh*

        The grocery store I like most has a rotating group of “mask bouncers” also. My personal favorite was probably a cheerleader in high school/college – relentlessly cheerful and enthusiastic, assumes best intent every time they hand someone a mask (“oh, did you forget your mask in your car? Here, have one from the box!!!!!”), and refuses to let anyone into the store without something covering nose and mouth. That this particular person is about 5 foot 3 and weight perhaps 100 lbs soaking wet makes their ability to wrangle compliance out of the most surely sort even more impressive.

        1. Rara Avis*

          My grocery store has big burly security guards enforcing mask compliance at the door. I haven’t been in many other stores, but the few I have have employees doing the same (and counting entrants too, as we have capacity limits). Mask compliance is pretty good in my area.

          1. whingedrinking*

            A friend of mine is a supervisor in a bookstore, and in September, before the mask mandate came down in our province, his shop was requiring masks during regular hours but allowing non-masked people for an hour before and an hour after normal times with stricter limits on how many people were allowed in.
            He got to “star” in some annoying woman’s video. Rough transcript:
            “Please put on a mask, for everyone’s safety.”
            “It’s illegal for you to require that.”
            “No it isn’t, we asked the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, and they said it’s fine. Also, if you don’t want to wear a mask, you can come it at [time], [time], and [time].”
            “That’s also illegal.”
            “I’ve just told you it’s not. If you’re not going to wear a mask, I must ask you to leave.”
            “Or you could ring me up for these things I want to buy and I will go then.”
            “No. We are not serving people who will not follow the rules that are in place to keep our customers safe.”
            “Well, I’m not leaving until you serve me, and I’m not putting on a mask. You’ll have to call the police to get me to go.”
            “Very well.” And at that he headed to the nearest counter and picked up the phone. (The video ends there, but my friend tells me the smug expression on her face dropped off and she promptly turned and left.)
            The wild thing was that she put the video up on YouTube like she was expecting…I don’t know what, exactly, but the comments were promptly flooded with people saying “What a nice young man, he dealt so well with this annoying customer. He deserves a raise for doing his best to keep the community safe.” She soon disabled comments; last time I checked, the video had been taken down.

    4. Sally*

      Last night at the grocery store, I ran into a guy wearing his mask under his nose and another person wearing his mask under his chin. In both instances, I used a very surprised and helpful voice to point out that “Oh my goodness! Your mask must’ve slipped!” People cannot respond to that in any way other than putting their mask over their face, without having to admit that they’re being jerks on purpose. And the helpful tone makes it really hard for them to want to do that.

      It’s a trick I learned from reading Ask a Manager. That tone of, “ we’re all choosing to do the right thing because we’re good people and I’m assuming you’re a good person!“

    5. Anonollama*

      I am in a different country but also found that early morning was best for avoiding the nasty no-maskers/nose commandos. They seem to come out mid morning (especially Sundays) and late nights in large grocery stores. I haven’t been to a store during busy midday hours in nearly a year so no idea what it’s like then. And the stores- with rare exceptions- don’t enforce their mask policies. It certainly has made me pick and choose where and when I shop!

    6. tangerineRose*

      The decision makers at the grocery store might be afraid that some mask-hostile people would attack an employee who insists they wear a mask. The idea of having bouncers as greeters who insist on mask wearing sounds good though.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Yeah, either attacked by COVID-19 or by people who are angry that they aren’t being allowed to spread it :(

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yes, my employer has front-line employees who are sometimes assaulted in the general course of non-pandemic business, despite efforts to protect them. Our policy is that these front-line employees are welcome to call in security but are not responsible for enforcing masks on their own.

        There’s really no good answer in situations like that.

        1. pancakes*

          Why isn’t hiring security a good answer? It’s far better than expecting people who weren’t hired or trained to do security to do security.

  25. Radio Girl*

    As someone who has lost two friends from Covid, and has family members who would likely not recover from it, I agree. Masks are essential.

  26. Vee*

    Alison, the timing on this post is impeccable! I’m meeting with my department director (3rd level manager), my manager, and my 2nd level manager today to discuss my “COVID concerns”, after a short conversation with my department head several weeks ago where I asked why I was not being allowed to work remotely at all during this time (my job duties could allow 75-95% remote work on average).

    I didn’t mention anything then about mask policy violations in the office (of which there are many, especially in my department and my group, and there are no government mandates where I live/work), but I will be mentioning that today. I’m a bit nervous though, because I don’t want to be seen as someone who is complaining just so I can work remotely. If at the end of the day I never get to work remotely, that’s fine as long as my company starts taking this seriously before we have an outbreak, and before I end up sick.

    I’m shocked we haven’t had an outbreak already, but there have been talks of some areas that have had people in quarantine, which has not been communicated to the in-office employees (at least at the low level, I heard managers were told and asked to help provide contact tracing). I’m also upset about this and have complained to HR about this and the mask policy, with the response being “we’re doing a great job contact tracing and handling this” while only sending out rare reminders to wear masks and not reprimanding people.

    Anyone else go through this? How did you handle it?

  27. Disco Janet*

    Coincidentally, my curriculum has me reviewing the Supreme Court case Jacobson v. Massachusetts today. Most of my students have been shocked to discover that yes, the government is actually allowed to put a limit on your personal freedoms in the case of a serious public health crisis.

  28. Oof*

    This has not been an issue for me and my workplace (thankfully) but I have wondered – how do people handle accommodation requests? While there are many options for those who cannot wear masks, it’s an imperfect system. Part of me wants to say “well, then you don’t get a sandwich today” but that does not feel right either. Thoughts?

    1. Lucy P*

      We’ve had to be adamant with a few in our workplace, but there is no real consequence for not wearing masks.
      Unfortunately we have several people in our workplace who either need to read lips or simply cannot physically hear people when the speak with masks on. For months we’ve worked to talk to those people only from appropriate distances.
      About a month ago I had to work with one of those persons on a very close basis for several hours throughout the day. Because I had to keep commenting on settings on their computer (trying to develop a product demo and needed to sort through colors, materials, etc), I could not wear a mask because the person would not be able to understand me. I went home that night and ordered face shields. A few days later, the company decided to provide face shields for those who need to work with those people.
      Now I need to get coworkers on board for a cleaning schedule. I feel that frequently touched surfaces should be disinfected daily. Whereas the person that would share disinfecting duties with me doesn’t feel a Monday disinfecting is necessary since the office had its regular cleaning over the weekend.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Face shields are not effective, according to the CDC (link coming in a reply). There are masks with clear plastic panels that would be appropriate.

        1. Lucy P*

          Thanks. I will look into the masks with the clear plastic for myself. I can’t see the company paying for the other masks. Plus, for the persons who can’t hear when we wear masks (as opposed to the one who lip reads), I don’t know that the clear plastic ones will help. However, if anyone else has experience with this, I’d love to hear about it.

          1. Julia*

            I sing in a special mask with a clear part over the mouth (mostly so my teacher can see what I’m doing, but also because it gives me more room inside the mask to move my mouth – it was made especially for safe singing).
            Not sure how to solve the issue with the coworker who can’t hear you through masks, but maybe a sort of megaphone or microphone might help? We used those when interpreting in construction, as it’s dusty (= mask) and loud (=hard to hear).

      2. Wandering*

        There was an article in the Washington Post some months ago about a guy who designed masks with clear panels specifically for lip reading. It’s an available option for those who need it, if not as ubiquitous as lip readers might wish.

    2. Not Me*

      Generally, the accommodation is to work remotely. If that’s not possible, and the job can’t be done without interacting with others…there isn’t really a reasonable accommodation available to most employers/employees.

        1. Not Me*

          I haven’t seen those approved in lieu of a mask in any of the 20 cities we have offices in. That’s a separate control, it’s not at all the same as a mask.

          1. pancakes*

            I didn’t mean to suggest using these in lieu of a mask. Every place I’ve seen them used, they are used in conjunction with masking, and in places where social distancing isn’t always easy or possible – at store check-out, for example.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      A friend of mine has a customer who can only wear a face mask because they are lugging an oxygen tank around. Nothing you can really say about that particular situation.

      (Though really, um….maybe they should not be shopping in person in a non-essential business if this is their situation.)

        1. allathian*

          Yeah. A person I know uses supplemental oxygen and carries a small tank around. They’re hooked up to the tank with a tube that covers both nostrils and wear a mask over their mouth. I suppose if they were to sneeze, the tubes might fly out, but other than that, they breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth and mask.

  29. AnonForThis*

    I have a ‘Bob’ in my office. Management is handling it by sending out group emails about how compliance isn’t optional, making vague threats about how there will be ‘consequences’ for not complying, etc. We all know it’s f***ing Bob they are talking to/about. I wish they would stop sending out generally scolds to the majority who *are* complying and instead just tell Bob straight out that he either puts his mask on or he packs his stuff and gets out.

    1. Batgirl*

      I always respond to those with “oh my goodness is this me? I was sure I had mine on ok? I know everyone else is fine too except Bob of course. Please just tell me!” Then when they come back with “No you’re fine ” I reply “Sorry; I should have known you would have said something to me directly if anything was wrong”

    2. Rebecca Stewart*

      I’m reminded of something Allison has said before about doing group emails in the hopes that the offender will recognize it and stop, and how it never seems to get through to the offender, but everyone else gets paranoid or annoyed. I’m so not surprised this is working the same way.

  30. Anonollama*

    This is why I’m not working now. My workplace made rules about COVID safety (as late as possible and only once it became a public health order, never at their own initiative). I and multiple colleagues brought up areas of concern including a mask-refusing coworker we had to be in regular contact with. That coworker has refused to wear the mask for months with no discipline from management other than “reminders”. No-masker also deliberately got right up in the personal space of a coworker they dislike. That coworker complained and was told it was fine since *they* were wearing a mask. Meanwhile some of the supervisors kept going around without wearing masks in close contact situations like opening mail (2 person job for fraud prevention reasons) or talking to office visitors face-to-face. And the grand boss had been seen openly sitting on their admin’s desk chatting to them with both unmasked on the same day an all-times-except-distanced-eating-breaks mask mandate was announced by that same boss. Meanwhile 1/3 of the security people who are responsible for enforcement of masks in the building were going around nose commando or chin masked! Then when we complained or raised health & safety concerns the grand boss claimed they are “doing everything necessary to keep us safe”- and pointed to the rules they don’t obey or enforce.

    I feel like I should have pushed harder but every time I did I got blown off and my health became precarious due to the stress of trying to stay safe in that hostile environment. And I kept hoping my workplace would do the right thing until finally it was clear they never would- but by that time I was incapable (healthwise) of taking the steps to report them. So I found a way to get out and protect myself; it was all I could do. But I still feel guilty and worried for my colleagues stuck there who are at risk.

  31. James*

    I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate here.

    I’m in environmental remediation, which involves a lot of situations where we are not at risk for Covid-19 contamination. Like, take the standard well sampling job: I’m by myself, with a well, and the nearest person is usually half a mile away (through brambles and a creek bed and possibly a mountain). I have been informed that my staff weren’t wearing masks in such situation. But do I really need staff wearing masks? If anyone gets within 6 feet of the worker they’re supposed to stop work and notify me anyway.

    Or, to give another instance: We got dinged because our staff weren’t wearing masks. There were 3 people onsite: one (safety officer) in his car, one in the cab of an excavator, and one (spotter) outside the swing radius of the excavator (call it 40 feet from the operator, and twenty to 30 yards from the safety officer). They were all inside a 3-acre exclusion zone, meaning we were the only ones authorized to be in there.

    I understand the point of masks in a retail or office environment, but it just seems that there could be some exceptions made for folks working in fields where social distancing is the default.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I used to work in this field; it’s probably just a CYA move so people don’t come back into the office without them, or because they can’t see what you’re doing when you’re onsite.

      If you’re outside and that far away, it’s unlikely you’d need one and/or could wear it around your neck and pull it up if you have to go over and talk to someone. But I don’t make the rules.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      I guess it depends on the scenario, but I guess I’d ask one question: if something were to happen, would the spotter or the safety officer have the time or the awareness to mask up before attending to the emergency if it required getting closer than the distances they were at?

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        Some of my coworkers don’t wear a mask all the time because we’re outside and more than six feet apart but when we do have to get close, it’s a whole production for them as they have to put down what they’re doing to put their mask back on (difficult in gloves!) when it would be easier to leave it on the whole dang time.

        I imagine they have a blanket policy for indoor and outdoor staff because it’s easier than giving an inch because people will look hard for reasons not to wear masks.

      2. James*

        Generally speaking, on the sites where I work, if something happens wearing a mask would be rather redundant. To give a non-Covid related example: One site where I used to work has a 100,000 gallon tank of vinyl chloride. It’s part of the manufacturing process. It’s also highly explosive. They make us wear fire-retardant clothing, but we all know it’s really pointless–if the tank ever explodes (and to be clear, they take every precaution to prevent that) the whole facility is going to be vaporized, fire-retardant suit or not.

        In other cases respirators are part of the safety requirements. I’ve worked in areas with potential to encounter mustard gas before, or in areas where acid fumes were a likely threat. Anything that liquifies rodents is not something you want in your lungs! So we’re used to working under conditions where respirators are, if not required, at least potentially required.

        Honestly, the biggest threat in terms of Covid is our safety meetings. That’s the only time all of us are in one spot. And there we have clear guidelines on masks, social distancing, cleaning, and the like.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          They make us wear fire-retardant clothing, but we all know it’s really pointless.

          So your staff is well-used to following safety guidelines they don’t believe are truly necessary. So what’s the issue with masks specifically?

          1. James*

            Just because we’re used to doing safety theater doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Look up the OSHA trigger states–“Complacency” is a big one, an security theater in my experience leads to complacency. Making people do pointless things makes them lose respect for the policies and decision-makers, and makes it harder to get them to do the important things, to give one example of how complacency can impact safety program implementation.

            Further, I work in the South, often in or near wetlands. Trust me, in August at 100 degrees with 100% local humidity (I’ve worked in conditions so humid that the water condensed out of the air on my arm hairs) you want as little PPE as you can get, to avoid heat stroke. It’s not masks specifically, but masks are the new PPE so they’re the one that triggers this discussion. To give an example of non-mask-related PPE that has this same issue: safety managers keep saying we should go to Tyvek to avoid ticks and poison ivy, which I’ve fought on the same grounds.

      3. James*

        I should be clear: I have instructed my teams to wear masks, and will continue doing so until the company, site, and state policy say it’s no longer necessary. I’m just asking because it’s something that comes up, and it’s something that I don’t generally see addressed in these discussions.

        1. Ashley*

          So for people outside the problem is you don’t know when you will run into another person unexpectedly.
          Anyone in a car / cab is breathing all over the place so anyone who then enters the space is exposed. Unless it is your personal vehicle how can you be sure no one else has to go in it.

    3. pancakes*

      This doesn’t add up. If there’s truly no one around your staff who are the complaints coming from?

      1. Anonollama*

        Yeah, I wonder about that too. If the complainers are close enough to tell without a doubt that the workers are unmasked (and sometimes that’s hard to identify even pretty close up if they aren’t facing you directly and you can’t see the ear loops), that would suggest there could be inadvertent close contacts.

      2. James*

        I’m not sure why you think this is surprising. Even a cheap home security camera can be accessed remotely. You can imagine that somewhere that includes high-risk materials or multi-million dollar industrial processes has a significantly better security camera than anyone in the middle class has at their home. Plus, modern cell phones have pretty good zoom functions. You can sit on a road a few hundred yards away and read the tag hanging out of a guy’s shirt with some of them.

        People get REALLY twitchy about hazardous waste, and pretty much everything I do on a jobsite is on camera these days.

        1. pancakes*

          I didn’t say that I think it’s surprising you’re getting complaints about staff not wearing masks. I asked who the complaints are coming from if there’s no one but staff present while your staff are working. You seem to be saying the complaints are coming from people monitoring your staff with cameras, but it isn’t clear whether these are people who own the property your staff is working on, or busybodies who pull off the road to observe them, or both, or neither. I’d think it would be more sensible to have staff wear masks rather than complain about other people in the vicinity not being authorized to be there.

    4. D3*

      Honestly, there’s no room for devil’s advocate in this discussion. There’s no room for people thinking they are the effing exception. There’s no room for people who play fast and loose with others’ safety by playing devil’s advocate. Being outdoors and separated *reduces* risk. It does not eliminate it. And there are probably times when they do come closer to speak to each other.
      AND you are getting complaints. Which means people are concerned. Have a little respect for others and wear the damn mask.

    5. Applecore*

      “”Here’s the thing: the devil doesn’t need any more advocates. He’s got plenty of power without you helping him.”

    6. Chilipepper*

      I’ll play this game.
      I work in a library and we have to wear closed toe shoes in case we drop a book on our foot. However, there are admin staff who never go near the books and full librarians who never shelve books. They still have to follow the rules about footwear. So does it really hurt you to wear the mask or at least on the chin so you can pull it up as needed?

      1. James*

        I never said it hurt me. Nor…well, anything I am accused of. I am asking why we cannot apply safety protocols that are standard when dealing with PPE and hazmat (including biological). Why is it inappropriate to apply lessons learned over the course of decades of study of safety protocols?

        We do not expect folks in field offices to wear reflective vests or hard hats, because the walls provide superior protection. Why can we not apply superior methods of protecting our staff when we have the opportunities?

        This sort of consideration is standard in HAZMAT sites. It seems ridiculous to not apply the same standards we developed to protect people in from other hazards, including biologicals. Don’t get me wrong, I do it—it just stands out, because we protect against dozens of similar threats the way I proposed (my last safety plan had four pages of such hazards). This is HOW my industry takes threats seriously. The idea that we will just throw PPE at the problem would be immediately dismissed.

        Chalk it up to different life experiences and differences in training.

        1. judyjudyjudy*

          What is your “superior protection” in this instance? And how much study has been done on the prevention of spreading a respiratory virus this contagious and this dangerous?

  32. Wrench Turner*

    I’m a residential services technician and it would also be nice to be able to fire customers who refuse to wear masks while I’m trying to fix things in their home. Last year I went to around 1500 random houses. Each has busy families working/learning from home, out of town guests (especially around holidays) and other trades folks there to work on other things. If I won’t help someone who won’t wear a mask and they get upset enough I could be fired or worse. Then they’ll just send another technician who is now the one at risk. So I just stuff the worry down next to where I keep my chronic asthma and hope I don’t get sick and die. Every day. Please wear a mask and don’t fuss about it when you have us over, and please tell your friends to do the same.

    1. Loredena Frisealach*

      Thank you for being the technician that wears a mask! And I agree, it would be awesome if you could safely refuse to work for a non-compliant customer just as I refuse to work with a non-compliant technician. I have coworkers who had to work on-site recently for a client that isn’t taking mask-wearing seriously and I know how very frustrated they were about it.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I hate that the people you’re helping are so cavalier about putting you in danger. We had a technician out to look at the stove a couple weeks ago and everyone in the house put on a mask a few minutes before we expected them to arrive. This person was coming to provide us with help we seriously needed, the least we could do was try to keep them safe!

      I’m hoping so hard for your safety and good health, Wrench Turner.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Yeah, I make damn sure I have a mask on if I even get a delivery and I flee to the other side of the house/lock myself in if someone has to physically come in the house!

  33. Ana Gram*

    This is simple stuff to me. Your employer has a rule to wear a mask or blue pants or have a college pennant in your cube or to announce that your favorite flower is a tulip. You don’t like the rule? Quit. I’m in public safety and have spent the last 23 years wearing the clothes my boss has handed to me. I don’t understand the preciousness around masks.

  34. Elizabeth West*

    I’ve added questions about COVID protocols to my list of interview questions, since this situation looks like it’s going to last through autumn at least. I want to know how they’re handling it, what the return-to-office plan is like, how the crisis may affect the position (i.e. is it vulnerable to layoff if there’s a further downturn in business?), and if they provide PPE. The answers can tell you a lot about the manager and the company.

    The last two interviews I’ve had were phone and Zoom; most people are still taking precautions.

  35. Jennifer*

    This is all just so sad. I don’t have the energy to get angry anymore. Yes, these people should be fired. Will they be? Probably not.

  36. Cal B*

    I am in Melbourne Australia and things have been so different here! Masks became mandatory in public (inside & outside) from July through to November, then depending on case numbers have varied from never to just in retail to all indoors, etc as needed to contain outbreaks (by outbreaks I mean 1-5 cases right now as our past lockdown and masks have done their job). Last week we had 1 case in our state (after 28 COVID free days) so we moved from masks in retail only to masks in all indoor settings. There has little to no resistance from people, there were occasional people on the news but they were arrested and fined (fine was for no mask, arrest was for not supplying name/address/not co operating). Employers can also be fined by the government for not following the guidelines so they do. Do police issue fines for not wearing masks in the US? I guess maybe if the message from the top (government/police) here is much stronger, that may be the difference. So maybe the problem is not just from employers/business owners not enforcing, but that it comes from the top and the lack of enforcement in government surely filters through. They sound like they are setting a pretty poor example.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      We actually have elected law enforcement officers stating publicly that they will not enforce mask mandates.

        1. Windchime*

          My son is a police officer. They don’t enforce it here in our state because, although it is a gross misdemeanor, it’s not really a law with an RCW that has been put in place by the legislature or a vote of the people. It’s a command or recommendation from the governer so apparently there isn’t a law enforcement agency in the state that will enforce it because it would never be prosecuted. Crazy but true.

      1. Mookie*

        We have sheriffs refusing to enforce curfews and to require social distancing and masking in their own departments and county jails. They won’t participate in contact tracing. They won’t agree to testing. They refuse to replace inmates’s single-use disposable masks, after MONTHS of use.

        The sheriff the next county over to me, which was the first county in the country to issue mask directives, started off spring 2020 shaming residents for getting his deputies sick by not social distancing. Now it’s all a hoax to take away Our Freedoms by our tyrant state governor and he spouts this stuff endlessly on the kind of podcasts that host this rhetoric. Insanity is not the word. This is pure amoral grift.

    2. Melanie Doormat*

      It’s not all sunshine and roses here — I work in an industry where most people are self-employed members of a particular profession, and rent rooms from a central company. Several people on my floor have smugly declared themselves “conscientious objectors” to masks, so while I’m sat at reception in my mask, they’re walking around with naked faces.

      (They are also all members of the same political party, all men, all incapable of stacking the dishwasher, all very concerned that cancel culture has come for the head of a football team noted for its institutional racism… You know. Those people.)

    3. WS*

      I work in healthcare in Victoria and I have to say “your mask has slipped” about 20 times a day to people with their noses out. But at least they have masks (apart from a few people with genuine medical exemptions) and only a very few have argued about it.

    4. MJ*

      We’re had 7 months – and counting – of mandatory masks in all public spaces (in and outside), and have (by law) authorised persons to enforce the law. These include police officers, managers of shops, even bus drivers. There are fines for failing to wear a mask, failing to cover nose and mouth, failing to comply with social distancing. There are also a few people in prison for failing to obey quarantine laws.

      However, there are still people walking about with their masks down below their noses. They will shove it up to go into a store but pretty quickly let it slip down.

      We may have vaccines for SARS-CoV-2, but there’s still no cure for stupid. Any Zombie virus will have a field day.

  37. Sawbonz, MD*

    I work in a hospital (duh) and I had the pleasure of riding the elevator with a gentleman who, as soon as the door closed, whipped off his mask and said, “Glad to finally get THAT thing off!” and looked at me, decked out in my most un-comfy N-95 mask, like he expected me to agree with him.

    I was too exhausted to say anything to him; just looked at the door and shook my head.

  38. Mental Lentil*

    This entire pandemic has taught me that we need to quit saying “avoid it like the plague” because WE ARE NOT GOOD AT THAT.

    le sigh

    1. D3*

      “Avoid it like the plague” is right up there with “sleep like a baby” at this point. Both are sarcastic/ironic.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        At this point in my life, I do sleep like a baby. I wake up every few hours, go to the bathroom, shake my fist angrily at life, go back to bed, and wake up exhausted. I’m still chubby, but no longer cute. Alas…

    2. whingedrinking*

      The pandemic has proven that zombie movies aren’t realistic. Not because they contain zombies, but because nobody in them goes around insisting it’s no big deal and it’s their right to make noise, open the windows, and bite people.

  39. its just me*

    I wear a mask at work and any time I go out which is rare (and I only work in office 2 days a week and have an office with door shut) I am only there because I am IT and sometimes have to push a button. Groceries are delivered and left on the porch.

    I am currently in quarantine because I had a positive covid test.

    Yes I am one of the ‘maskers’ that got it anyway – not saying don’t wear them- obviously I do – but I still got it and I have no idea where or how.

    1. bubbleon*

      I’m sorry to hear about your positive test, I hope you get through it without much trouble. But I don’t know what you’re trying to achieve by sharing this anecdote. These are exactly what those who don’t wear masks look for when justifying why they won’t do it. If you’re not saying don’t wear them… what are you saying?

    2. Mental Lentil*

      Masks are 100% effective. They simply reduce your chances of contracting the disease.

      Tests are not perfect either. There is always a chance of a false negative or false positive.

      But really, this highlights the crux of this issue (and so many others): it’s not what we do as individuals that makes the difference, but what we do as a community that makes the difference.

      1. its just me*

        I’m saying you can still get it and should not get complacent. People pulling on them hanging under their nose – getting right up in your space ‘because we have masks on’ I literally start backing up and put my hands up!!

    3. PJ*

      I feel for you! Very disappointing when you’ve tried to do everything right and then get sick anyway. I think the point is that you do what you can and that’s all you can do! There are people who don’t wear a seatbelt, are thrown safely clear in an accident and then cite that as evidence that no one should wear a seatbelt… There are also people who are wearing one and unfortunately don’t survive a crash. It’s kind of the same idea with wearing a mask and getting covid. Masks are still common sense. I get that wearing a mask and still getting Covid doesn’t make you anti-mask. It’s just a bummer!

    4. Tired of Covid-and People*

      Fomite transmission (from surfaces) is a thing although not it does not have nearly the prevalence of respiratory transmission. Perhaps the groceries? Mail? Other packages? Plus, masks are not 100% effective in keeping the virus out, even the 95s let in 5%.

      Anyway, sorry you caught it and hope you recover soon.

  40. Girasol*

    There’s still too much confusion about the objective of mask wearing. The people who argue, “It’s my life and my freedom!” don’t grasp that the main point of a mask is to protect others. The people who say, “But I don’t need a mask! I’m not sick!” don’t understand that covid is spreading mainly via carriers who feel okay themselves. The people with the face shields need to have aerosol spread explained to them. The people who wear them as chin warmers so that they can say, “But I am wearing a mask!” need to have the whole point explained so they understand that masking is not just a stupid rule to evade but a life-and-death matter. I’d really like to see employers and the CDC hammer on these basics until everyone understands why the common excuses won’t wash.

  41. employment lawyah*

    When it comes to someone stupid, who is NOT claiming an excuse but is simply defiant, it’s simple: You give the order to “wear a mask at all times on company property, covering both mouth and nose” If they don’t do it, you fire them (or, if your rules require it, you write them up.) Continue until they change or get fired.

    For everyone else really quite a bit more complicated than that in practice.

    Some of the rules which are designed to protect employees–for example, which make it difficult for employers to intrude regarding medical details–can be leveraged by unscrupulous employees to bad ends. The “medical conditions prevent me from wearing a mask” folks are like the people sneaking ESA turkeys into service-dog-only spaces: there are probably some people who can’t wear masks but they can be hard to ferret out legally.

    Also: Cloth masks are bad in those situations. If you’re around others and especially if they’re known idiots, wear a kn95 or equivalent.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Cloth masks are not bad btw. Most masks protect others more than you. Even a kn95 (dunno where to getthose from, blindingly expensive round here) won’t protect you against people who insist on not wearing masks and coughing in public.

  42. Alexa*

    I have asthma and can’t wear a mask…should I have to disclose my medical condition to literally every self righteous busy body?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Nope, but as with other medical issues you will need to work with HR to find an accommodation. Fortunately, there are established laws that govern how employers should handle medical and religious accommodations.

      1. Alexa*

        How about when I’m constantly being harassed by my coworkers, or when I get shot side glares and whispers? People like you, who call for people like me to be fired isn’t helping.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Your employer has a legal obligation not to allow you to be harassed for a disability, so if that is happening, that’s something you need to report to them. (If they won’t help, then they’re breaking the law — but general workplace advice isn’t targeted toward outlier situations. Those require specific, tailored advice.)

          It’s disingenuous to say I’m calling for you to be fired. It’s always inherent in this kind of discussion that companies will follow the law re: medical and religious accommodations. If I say that people who won’t show up when they’re needed at work should be fired, most people will understand that doesn’t include, say, observant Jews who need Yom Kippur off.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Just…thank you. Sincerely. For all this. AAM and your stance on all this has really helped me to avoid a second nervous breakdown and/or a severe migraine from headdesking.

          2. Wintermute*

            I would love to see official guidance or case law about whether not wearing a mask is a reasonable accommodation in a pandemic world, and just what level of risk to coworkers is considered an undue harship. After all, not all disabilities have a reasonable accommodation possible for all jobs, but oftentimes there is alternate equipment or mitigation practices that you can use instead– if you can’t wear latex gloves and work in food service then vinyl gloves or nitrile are an accommodation, simply not wearing one is not.

            I’d love for there to be some official guidance on this, but in absence of strong guidelines, what do you think would be a reasonable accommodation for someone who cannot wear a mask but cannot work 100% remote? I presume the first step would be to try to get them an isolated work area, in an office with a door or in a room that isn’t in use because people are working from home, but if that’s not possible I’m not sure what could be done that would reasonably protect co-workers, given how little protection face shields have proven to provide.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              I have tackled exactly this (some of our job cannot be done remotely and I do have staff with PTSD exemptions from masks).

              Health and Safety, HR, me as manager and the staff concerned put together a plan. On the times when these staff have to come into the office we:
              Advise all other staff present to keep a WIDE distance. Like 12 feet away or more.
              The area of equipment they’ll work on is highly sanitised where possible and not touched by another that day if possible.
              Everyone is reminded just how serious this virus is (to everyone. Being young and fit is not protection against it maiming or killing) to keep it fresh in their heads.
              If I see someone else maskless, or taking their mask off to chat, during this time they’ll be suspended from work.
              My mask exempt staff (2 of them) wear gloves, face shields, have disposable plastic tabards that they can ditch before they leave, basically adapted some of my old lab safety.
              If their job was full time had to be in the office then we’d have been stuck, because reasonable accommodations don’t include walking around all day without protective gear in an enclosed environment. Any more than I could have worked in the labs without safety gear.

              1. Chinook*

                I like this. It is a real plan that takes both COVID and masking seriously while still recognizing that there are legitimate reasons for not masking.

        2. pancakes*

          The solution for this is to talk to HR about both accommodation for your asthma and the harassment your experiencing. Urging people who don’t work with you to stop calling for better adherence to masking rules is not a solution at all.

          1. Wintermute*

            I think it’s worth pointing out that as an advocacy group, their advice leans towards a very, very generous interpretation of the ADA. There simply is no official statement or case law on the point, and I think that they probably go a little too far, in terms of making statements that are fairly easily rebutted (E.g. they suggest face shields as an accommodation, when a business could easily provide data if sued that face shields have basically no effect and are not safety equipment in this case).

            1. pancakes*

              This is not correct. If you scroll up from the anchor in that link you will find summaries of both official statements and case law (“The first case regarding the ADA and face masks was decided on October 23, 2020 in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania”).

        3. Aw*

          Somebody named Alexa was complaining in the comments recently that they shouldn’t have to pay their employee’s maternity leave, which (if that’s you) suggests you are the boss and aren’t going to get fired, so no need to worry about being harrassed by coworkers, right?

          And if you don’t want to provide the benefits that retain good people, they’ll probably all quit and you won’t have to be working around people anyway, so problem solved!

          If you are not the same Alexa and just coincidentally happen to be posting a well-worn devil’s advocate position right after another Alexa did the same, then my bad.

    2. D3*

      You can wear a mask. Or you can stay home.

      “According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, there is no evidence that wearing a face mask can worsen your asthma.

      However, some people with moderate or severe asthma may feel it is more difficult to breathe while wearing a face mask. If you don’t feel you can wear a mask due to your asthma, it may be best for you to stay home or avoid public places as much as possible. Ask family and friends to run errands for you. If you must go out, avoid large crowds and practice social distancing. Being in public without a face mask may increase your chances of getting COVID-19 or passing it on to others.”

      I’ll share the link/source in a follow up comment.

      1. Wintermute*

        Yeah, the “imminent threat” exception to the ADA would be easy to invoke here, exposing your coworkers to a potentially fatal disease is simply not a reasonable burden in many cases. Now the business would have to explore all potential avenues– work from home whether they’re offering it widely or not, giving you an isolated workstation or closed office, relocating you to an area away from coworkers, providing physical barriers and shields, etc. first, but it’s a myth that there are accommodations in all cases, sometimes there just isn’t.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Then you ask for and get accommodations like: kerbside pickup, delivery, working from home, being further separated from other coworkers (greater distance between your desk and others etc.).

      Which is what we high risk people have been doing for nearly a year now.

      What Allison, and indeed any clear minded person, is arguing for is that the people who refuse to wear masks for NO medical reason (‘I don’t believe Covid is serious’ or ‘I don’t believe masks work’ are NOT medical reasons) should be fired, told they can’t enter stores etc.etc.

      And that is our main issue. Not the few of us who legitimately have medical problems but the much greater number who somehow think this is a hoax, an attack on ‘civil liberties’ who are the ones who gather en mass, break lockdowns, refuse to social distance. THEY are the ones to get angry about as they are the ones causing this to drag on and kill people in their millions all over the globe.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Additionally, I have 2 members of staff who cannot wear masks. Both due to PTSD. They are rarely in the office but if they are I’ve simply told the team that they have to make extra effort to stay well over 6 feet away because these people do have a medical reason not to wear them.

        I’ve had to have stern talks to other members of staff who’ve tried to use the ‘but I don’t want to wear a mask if X doesn’t have to’ excuse. These 2 people have presented legit medical documentation to HR (also to me but that was unprompted) about their exemptions and that’s case closed.

        Frankly I have more problems with the staff who try to get me to stop making masks mandatory.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Now that I’ve slowed down a bit, it’s pretty clear this comment isn’t in good faith and sounds suspiciously like those people in the spring who thought they could get out of stores’ mask requirements by waving a card saying they had a disability. That’s not how it works.

      First of all, the accommodation isn’t going to be “just don’t wear a mask and go about your business.” It’s going to be working from an isolated location or behind plexiglass or something else that will keep people around you safe.

      Second, if you have asthma, I’m sure you and your doctor both care very much about making sure people around you are masked since you’re at extra risk.

      Third, as someone posted above, people with asthma are still advised to wear masks. If for some reason you feel you cannot, then again, you’re looking at medical accommodations that will help keep people around you safe, not just a free-for-all where you ignore public health restrictions.

      1. Sue*

        I work in the Courts and we have people coming in claiming medical reasons for not wearing a mask. I tell them our accommodation is to 1) reschedule or 2) arrange to appear by Webex. They cannot stay in the courtroom unmasked. Only had 2 that we had to send out after this short discussion. But I live in a county where our elected Sheriff has made numerous public pronouncements about his disdain for the mask mandate so I’m fortunate it’s only been the 2.

      2. Loredena Frisealach*

        I don’t think it was a good faith complaint either – I too have asthma, and honestly the mask has helped! My asthma flareups lately are all from being in my own yard, maskless, and no other triggers, and they aren’t worsened by wearing it. I’m seriously considering wearing masks when I take the dogs out to reduce the attacks. Even my spouse with COPD wears a mask whenever he needs to go anywhere.

        1. Windchime*

          Same here. I have asthma and a couple of years ago also had bronchitis, during flu season. The first thing that the doctor’s staff did was make me put on a mask. I did just fine with the mask. Also…..I haven’t had any asthma/allergy flareups since we started wearing masks.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Mum has serious breathing problems, wears a mask, recently told me this has been the best winter ever because she’s not had a single cold, sniffle, sinus infection etc. First time in my life I’ve heard my mum in winter with a clear voice.

      3. Bagpuss*

        I have asthma. I found I couldn’t wear the disposable, surgical type masks which we bought for employees to wear at work – they triggered my asthma. However, I can, and do, wear other kinds of mask – the issue was with something used in the manufacture of those masks, not with the act of wearing a mask itself.

        I’ve also found that they can be helpful in other ways – wearing them in the current cold weather is actually useful, same as wearing a scarf over my mouth and nose, as it means there’s less shock f cold air going into my lungs.

        Now, if I can only fix the perennial glasses misting up issue….

        (We also, as an organization, have had to deal with clients saying they are exempt. Our response has been that unfortunately, for the safety of our staff, we can’t allow anyone into the building without a mask, so if they are unable to wear one we will accommodate that by dealing with them by phone, videoed, or at a pinch, by meeting them outside in the carpark and talking to them from 12 feet away .

    5. GigglyPuff*

      I mean are you at least wearing face shields? That to me at least signals you care and are trying, and there might be a reason you can’t wear a mask.

    6. Homo neanderthalensis*

      My mother has severe (been hospitalized many times) asthma. She largely isn’t leaving the house- when she does, she wears a mask. I have sensory processing disorder and PTSD- I work retail and wear a mask every work day for 9+ hours a day. Wear a mask- or stay home.

    7. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I also have asthma. And I have a job that can’t be done from home, so I’m coming in to work every day and wearing a mask for the entirety of every shift. Do I take my inhaler more often than I was at this point last year? Yes. Do I sometimes need to sit down for a couple of minutes to steady my breathing? Yes. But other than that, I’m fine. Wearing a mask has not done serious harm to my health, and when I spoke to my doctor around this time last year, she encouraged me to wear a mask *because* of the asthma. Because I’m higher risk, and anything I can do to mitigate that risk for myself is worth trying.

    8. Ruby*

      There is no scientifically supported evidence that asthmatics cannot wear a mask (I have severe asthma and my doctor has advised me that it is especially important that I wear one, and that I avoid people who do not). There is sadly a lot of anecdata to support the claim that there are many selfish, ignorant people who think that claiming to be asthmatic is an excuse to avoid the mild discomfort of wearing a mask.

    9. Batgirl*

      At my workplace we know who has a mask exemption because they’ve been issued a shield for self protection rather than a mask, and have perspex around their desk or they are on long term work from home. We don’t know their deal but we know they need a few tweaks and some grace. It’s a pretty big deal because we are only teaching the kids of key workers right now. Imagine if we just freewheeled that situation. We would absolutely get fired for trying to. Honestly, I hope your workplace gets its act together soon because your colleagues should be placing their expectations on management processes, not individuals. It’s utterly unfair on you.

    10. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      As Alison said, you can work with your boss or HR department to figure out whether the appropriate accommodations are giving you a private office with a door, having you work from home all the time, or something else that doesn’t endanger other people.

      For almost everything else, the accommodations are telemedicine, and delivery and curbside pickup: you can still have your groceries, medicine, books, etc., you just can’t browse the store for them Storekeepers, retail employees, bus drivers, etc. aren’t required to risk their life and health in order to accommodate someone else’s asthma.

      If you haven’t already, talk to your doctor about whether there’s a kind of mask that will work for you. I know someone with asthma who stayed home for literally months, mail-ordering several different kinds of mask to try, before she found one that she can wear without triggering an attack.

      1. EchoGirl*

        Not to sidetrack too much, but I just wanted to say that as a person who does find mask-wearing difficult, I really like this comment because I think it hits a balance that a lot of society seems to be struggling with; it’s being firm that just not wearing a mask isn’t something that’s reasonable to ask for, but also takes Alexa at her word that it’s a real problem for her and offers actual solutions she can try. I wish more people responded like you do.

        An analogy I’ve used before is that when people discovered that mask elastics were hurting their ears, society actually took it seriously and found ways to mitigate the issue without compromising mask-wearing; we didn’t just say “too bad, suck it up” or claim the issue didn’t really exist and was just anti-mask nonsense. But with issues that affect a narrower swath of the population, a lot of people respond in the latter way. People who are raising such issues in good faith will be willing to have the discussion about alternatives. I think if we could at least start the conversations from a place of assuming good faith* but also making the limitations clear, it would make things a lot better for those of us who genuinely struggle while still laying down a boundary against those who are just using “medical issues” as a get-out-of-mask-free card.

        * I mean this in a general sense, all else held equal; I know there will be exceptions where it’s clear from the get-go that a person is NOT arguing in good faith, either because of history with them or the tone of their argument, so please don’t think I’m saying you have to approach those as though there is good faith when you know there isn’t.

    11. Tired of Covid-and People*

      Stay home then. I have a completely obstructed sinus and heart failure, and can breath just fine with two masks on. Don’t know you, but other asthmatics have stated they wear the mask just fine. Own up to the fact that you just don’t care about others. Call me whatever you want, I have a right not to be infected with your germs during a freaking pandemic. It’s not all about you.

    12. ElizabethJane*

      I’m severely asthmatic and delivered a baby via 14 hours of active labor, wearing a mask.

      I’m almost certain you can also wear a mask during your day job.

      However, as others have said, if you cannot there are accomodations that aren’t just “Do whatever you want”

      1. Owler*

        You are a rockstar. I hated having glasses touching my face during labor (husband forgot my contacts), and that was in the before times. I can’t imagine what it would have been like with a mask. High five, ElizabethJane.

        1. ElizabethJane*

          For whatever reason things on my face didn’t bother me in labor but I freaked out about the ties of the hospital gown brushing my back.

          I’m actually way more respectful of “I hate having things touch my face during this highly stressful moment” than “I can’t breathe”

  43. The end of the pandemic is near :)*

    I fired 3 of my staff of four in one day over this very problem. We provide masks, face shields, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, etc. but these three thought that they could win the battle over masks at all times because there were more of them than us (the mask wearers). They lost their unemployment claims too. My remaining employee and I are enjoying our safer workplace and she gets paid her pay plus a bonus equivalent to what the others made combined. It’s not sustainable for the long term but right now we would much rather work harder than risk exposure.

    1. What Angelica Said*

      Thank you for doing this! That they were denied unemployment is really just glorious icing on their arsehole cake.

      1. The end of the pandemic is near :)*

        Insubordination means unemployment denied. I made everyone sign our policy when it was implemented.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I’d love to work with you :)

      I do have the power to fire people who repeatedly flout safety procedures, like refusing to wear a mask, but it’s a long process of warning, written warning…

      I’ll still do it though. If someone said they had a skin condition and required no clothes to touch their skin all day I wouldn’t let them show up to work in the nuddy.

  44. Imaginary Number*

    Nobody in my workplace can get away with refusing to wear a mask, but there sure are a lot of people getting away with totally ineffective masks. Like those itty bitty plastic shields that sit on the chin and expose the entire nose and mouth as soon as the person speaks.

    1. Ashley*

      I have recently been engaging in the argument with a member of a group. It is truly exhausting the number of ways they try to dodge the rules.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Thankfully our wrote its mask declarations to be medical grade or fabric, so I have yet to see any molded clear plastic in the wild here.

  45. Batgirl*

    Some people, when confronted with a rule, will always say “make me”. Case in point: One student tutting loudly whenever he was asked to mask up because “Me mum and me Nan don’t wear one at the shops. Nobody makes us!” So, we took that as a request for guidance, made him wear one and now he does it by habit.

  46. PJ*

    I wear my mask as I’m supposed to at work, etc. But here’s something extra that I thought was a good idea. I happened into a little store the other day with hand sanitizer and a sign on the door that mandated using it prior to shopping. I thought that was great (!) because I honestly wonder if wearing a mask is lulling people into a sense of “over-protected-ness” as in, “I wear a mask so I’m not going to worry about distancing/handwashing.” It’s all three together! Some of the anti-mask people I know are citing how many people wear masks and still get Covid. I agree with that. I have had it, I wear a mask and I would say that a very high percentage of the people I know who’ve had it, have been very careful about mask wearing. I can also say that Covid came to our house because of someone who refused to wear a mask, said they “just had a cold” and has no understanding of personal space. I do think that making it ALL about a mask is giving people fuel for their argument. And we all know that arguments don’t need even a drop of gasoline these days!

    1. Tired of Covid-and People*

      Covid is primarily transmitted by the emission of infected respiratory particles, in a sufficient quantity and for a sufficiently long enough time to settle into a new host. Thus, covering the nose and mouth is the key method of preventing transmission. IT IS NOT AND HAS NEVER BEEN 100% EFFECTIVE AT BLOCKING INFECTION!!! A culture of cleanliness, while performative at times, is absolutely a part of effective transmission control, along with staying as far away from other people as possible.

    2. whingedrinking*

      A few months ago I went into an upscale shoe shop and browsed around a bit. Their deal was to limit the numbers to one shopper at a time, require people to sanitize their hands, and have staff members stay two metres apart from customers (I was already wearing a mask but if I hadn’t been, I assume they would have provided one). When I requested a size, the clerk put the shoes in a box and slid them over to me on the floor. When I was rung up, the clerk punched in the numbers on the credit card machine, then backed away so I could approach the counter. I made a point of letting him know that I appreciated everything that was being done to keep customers and the community safe, and I hoped people hadn’t been giving him too hard a time of it.

    3. Windchime*

      My quilt shop diverts everyone to a hand-washing station before they can enter the store. I thought that was a really good idea. Of course, they also require masks and are strict about the number of customers who can be in the store at the same time. I really appreciate their diligence.

    4. Taxachusetts*

      So true. I always try to stay very distanced even while wearing a double mask. I’ll hold my breath if someone is close to me in a store and I can’t get away fast enough. I live in a high death rate state and area and haven’t been infected yet. Maybe I’ve been lucky.
      I understand if you absolutely have to do certain things to stay sane like let your kids go to school and some random things happen. But really if you’re following all precautions you’re very likely to be safe. This complacency is so cynical and disappointing.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I’m in the UK and most shops and other open buildings here have sanitizer stations at the doors. Supermarkets have sprays and paper towels so you can wipe down your basket or cart, too, before you start shopping.
      I’ve been avoiding going in so I am not sure what proportion of people use them.

      Our work can’t all be done from home so we have a reduced staff i the building, and we have sanitizer stations at the entrance, and also outside the kitchen and next to the shared copiers / printers, with a requirement to use it before touching anything

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Pretty high from my limited experience! There’s always people using those sanitizer stations round here.

        (Not me, half the stores use stuff that means instant skin burns, so I got a stock of stuff in the car that I know is safe for me to use. Several years in a lab practically showering in disinfectant day in and out can really eff your skin up)

    6. pancakes*

      “I do think that making it ALL about a mask is giving people fuel for their argument.”

      No one with expertise has made it all about a mask, though.

  47. David Starr*

    From the late and oh-so great Isaac Asimov: “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.”

  48. cncx*

    I have one of those jobs where i have to go in sometimes (IT) and for me it’s part of the social contract to wear a mask- it’s voluntary to come in at my job, and the idea is that if you are there you need to be there for Reasons so you need to play along. I don’t work in the US any more though. I really don’t understand people who are the first to say they are free quickly forget their their boss is free too- in an at-will state this shouldn’t be hard, play along to keep your job. The free market has spoken :)

    Also, I have reactive asthma, and i find that wearing masks actually makes me feel better and less reactive, probably because i’m not breathing in whatever it is provoking it.

  49. Tory*

    In my UK school (closed to all but a few vulnerable pupils, but with all kinds of unnecessary staff presence), it’s “Oh, we don’t need masks because everyone on site gets tested first thing in the morning so we know no one’s infected.”

    Negative results on the rapid response tests we take have an accuracy rate of 50-60%.

  50. Tidewater 4-1009*

    One thing that’s become clear in this pandemic is how many of our neighbors and coworkers have so little respect for us or authority they will put us in danger. It’s disheartening, but I find it motivates me to to fight back and I love my supportive, respectful friends all the more.

Comments are closed.