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Reader: Unmasked People Suck, but Where Is Store Enforcement?

Supermarket scofflaws, unmasked.
Supermarket scofflaws, unmasked.
Michael Roberts
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Customers are supposed to wear masks inside stores, and these days, most do. In fact, mask usage at major outlets such as supermarkets is now so close to universal that when people insist on shopping barefaced, they definitely cause a stir — in a very bad way.

Michael Roberts witnessed this during a trip to a Jefferson County King Soopers last week, when not one, but two anti-maskers gained entry to the outlet at the same time. The pair wandered about for an extended period, seemingly oblivious to the disgusted reactions of their fellow customers. The result, he reports, was the equivalent of tossing a stink bomb into a crowd of people and then watching them scatter.

But in their comments on the Westword Facebook post of the King Soopers mask piece, some readers suggested that it was the story that smelled. Asks Stuart:

Two guys not wearing a mask at Kings is newsworthy?

Responds C Woody:

With COVID numbers the way they are and many proclaiming how “everyone is complying so clearly masks don’t work,” yeah, this is important to talk about.

Adds Mason:

Considering that King Soopers and City Markets across the state account for the most, and largest, outbreaks, yes, it’s newsworthy.

Notes Maureen:

Anti-maskers are killing the economy by dragging this out, then bitching about things being closed.

Suggests Buster:

This should be The Onion instead of Westword.

Notes Lesley:

Moral of the story: If you want people to actually socially distance themselves around you, don't wear a mask. Got it. Thanks for the tip.

Asks Kaitlyn:

These people obviously suck, but why are the stores not enforcing masks better? This looks just as bad for the company...

Replies Suzanne:

Regular store personnel have enough to do without having to police customers. Stores need to hire bouncers. Big, scary-looking people who will politely ask others to put on masks, pull masks up where they belong, and quit harassing the poor people who are trying to do their jobs.

And then there's this from Jessica: 

Having worked in several retail and dining establishments, I can absolutely agree that I would not confront a customer without a mask. Disregarding the fact that those people are generally of a certain confrontational type, I'm just trying to get through my shift without suffering more bodily or mental damage than normal. Even in non-pandemic times, I've had customers scream, curse and even throw things at me. DURING pandemic? Can you even imagine the horror those supermarket employees are facing every day? And you want them to confront every right-wing psycho who comes in bare-faced? The same people who tried to kidnap a governor? Your article actually sums up the best way to handle a non-masker; give wide berth, get away ASAP.

In the end, you seem to blame the corporation for non-enforcement, but who would be doing the enforcing in real life? Some overworked manager who would spend their entire day chasing down idiots while not being able to fulfill their real responsibilities, such as stocking shelves and ordering inventory — which, if they didn't do, would end up as an article titled "Shelves bare, massive panic impending!" It's unrealistic and dangerous to expect a store employee to handle volatile situations, especially when they can't expect law enforcement to help. I'm high-risk, and instead of grumbling about people not wearing masks, I use the pickup feature and avoid this altogether. If that solution doesn't work for you (or the people who undoubtedly sparked this nonsense complaint), then you are more than welcome to mask police the public spaces.

Are people wearing masks where you shop? What do you do when you encounter an unmasked customer? An unmasked employee? Post a comment or share your thoughts at editorial@westword.com.

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