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Businesses are supposed to enforce Summit County’s mask requirement?

Summit County enacted its Covid-19 mask requirement Saturday morning at midnight. On Friday afternoon, The Summit County Council met in an emergency session to discuss the measure and vote it into place. During the public comment, I asked how local businesses should handle those people not wearing masks. The answer wasn’t what I expected.

I expected the County Council to say that ultimately people are responsible for their own actions, that they hoped all people would comply, and they are trying to communicate a “message” to the public to reduce the spiking Coronavirus numbers. That’s not the message I received.

Instead, Summit County Council Chair Doug Clyde said, “You [the business] are obviously going to be required to inform that person that their entrance to your business without a mask is not possible. That will be a requirement. You can’t be a business owner and decide that you are going to ignore this rule. This rule is real.”

What? So Fresh Market should have someone stationed at the door blocking people from entry if they aren’t wearing a mask? Same with Walmart, Smiths, etc.? You want them to enforce your order? It sounds like the County Council does.

That’s an unreasonable suggestion and not what the order appears to say. It says people are liable for not wearing a mask. My personal opinion is that masks should be mandatory statewide. Since the Governor’s decisions control the Park City School District, and I need school to happen this fall, I will do anything to make sure in-person school goes on. Since I live in Park City, and many friends would be financially crushed by no winter, I will do anything to make sure winter isn’t canceled. Masks make sense to me.

And please don’t say masks tread on your freedom. I learned in Civics in 9th grade that “the right to swing your fist stops at the next man’s nose.” There are speed limits. There are DUI laws. You have to wear shoes in a restaurant. I get your personal freedom thoughts (because I am often in your camp), but save them for a better argument.

However, if the County Council says that they expect businesses to enforce their law when it doesn’t seem it’s not actually part of the law, that goes too far. It’s the ammunition that gives people who hate masks ammunition. They say, “The County Council doesn’t even know what it is suggesting.”

So, Summit County businesses, I guess you may be responsible for stopping people from entering without a mask according to our legislative branch — but maybe not the actual ordinance. Are you going to turn people away? What are you going to do?

I get that the Coronavirus response is fluid, but it needs to be better than this.

Comments

3 Comments

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Walt

Well, to be fair, it’s businesses that generally enforce the shoes-in-the-restaurant laws.

What do you propose instead, Josh?

Personally I think the council should have just made a rule that any business that doesn’t require masks and achieve 90% compliance (by whatever means they want) gets closed.

Avatar
Parkrag

Hi Walt-

The “shoes in restaurant” requirement is in support of the health code, which if a restaurant violates, they can be shut down.

In this case (if the county wants businesses responsible), the ordinance should have stated that if people without masks are found inside a business, then that business may be shuttered (much like if a restaurant is found violating practices that endanger customers).

Otherwise, the Chair of the Council should have answered that they would hope most people would comply, but that a business isn’t ultimately responsible.

By stating something that isn’t really true per the ordinance (at least as I read it), the County looks like it doesn’t have it’s crap together. It then leads to people not trusting or following what the county says.

On something this important, I think they have to get the simple things right. If they can’t get messaging right, it casts doubt on what else they’ll get right.

It’s just disappointing, to at least me.

I would support your 90% compliance idea. Have the health code inspectors walk into a business and evaluate it. Is compliance at less than 90%? Shuttered for 3 days. Second offense, shuttered for a week. The only problem is that the Governor would show us who is really in control.

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Walt

Yeah – my point was, there’s not a health code person standing around restaurants looking for people without shoes. Enforcement is left up to the restaurants – and if they don’t enforce it and have a bunch of shoeless people eating, THEN the health dept steps in. The restaurant can’t say “well it’s not our job to enforce this, we just let people eat naked if they want, have a sheriff stand around here if you want it enforced.”

But I agree it should have been clearer. To be honest I’d prefer a mandate aimed at businesses rather than at individuals, and I think it would be easier to enforce and also more popular (or less unpopular, anyway).

Agreed on what Herbert would do. This is basically a way for SL and Summit to do something to make everyone feel good, while not having any actual enforcement. If they did something effective like ordering businesses to close, the governor would presumably step in and kick us to the curb.


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