The world is trying to find its new normal as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. For months, businesses and schools remained closed as governments worked with international health experts to slow the spread of the virus. Now, as stay-at-home orders are being eased or eliminated entirely, business owners need to make sure they are doing everything to keep both their employees and customers as safe as possible.
Numerous businesses have decided to take a strong stand on health guidelines before opening their doors to the public. For example, Ulta shut down in-person beauty consultations and make-up testers. However, after altering operations to comply with CDC guidelines to ease the spread of illness, some companies are slowly returning to their previous practices. This includes offering free samples at places like Costco.
Probably the most talked-about subject for businesses in this pre-vaccine COVID-19 era remains the use of face masks. It’s a hot topic because while some states like California, Illinois, Michigan, and New York require everyone to wear a mask while out in public, others only have that requirement for employees. Still others have no mask mandates at all.
AMC Theaters recently became a touchpoint in this controversy when it released a plan to open that did not include mandatory face mask use. The national movie theater chain initially said it would simply recommend its customers wear face masks when they open on July 15. However, public backlash quickly grew and the company reversed course on its policy and announced all theaters would require guests to wear a mask.
Despite the controversy about face masks, a number of businesses have ultimately decided to require customers or guests to wear them to shop or enter the building. Here are a few places you’ll need to bring along a mask to either shop, dine, or enjoy a day out of the house. Note: make sure to check the policies of any business you want to visit to get the most up-to-date information on health guidelines and requirements.
National Grocery Chains
Technically, this chain (like other grocery stores) never closed, but it seems to have been the first nationwide grocery chain to require face masks. All Costco Warehouse Club members have been required to wear face masks since May 4.
In a letter to Costco members, company president and CEO Craig Jelinek explained the decision to customers.
“In short, we believe this is the right thing to do under the current circumstances,” he said. “Although some may disagree with this policy or question its effectiveness, we’re choosing to err on the side of safety in our shopping environments. Costco has continued to operate during this crisis as an essential business in all of our communities, and our employees are on the front lines. As part of a community, we believe this simple act of safety and courtesy is one that Costco members and employees can undertake together.”
The Fresh Market
Per the store’s COVID-19 policy: “Our Team Members are now required to wear face coverings in the store, and we ask that all guests do, too … This new protocol is in accordance with the CDC’s latest recommendations.”
Other National Retailers
If you want to go clothes shopping at American Eagle or Aerie, you’ll need to wear a mask.
“In an effort to help keep our associates and customers safe, we require masks or facial coverings at all times when shopping in our AE and Aerie stores,” according to the company’s official website. “Face masks are available to any customer that may need one.”
Anyone wanting to head to this midwestern home improvement chain of stores will “follow the CDC guidelines of wearing a mask or face covering, which includes a full-length face shield,” its website says.
Uber and Lyft
In May, ride-sharing service Uber required all drivers and passengers to wear face masks and complete a health checklist, including using hand sanitizer to minimize health risks.
“As we move into the new normal, it’s our goal to encourage this same sense of shared responsibility: Uber, riders, drivers, delivery people and restaurants — we all have a role to play in keeping each other safe and healthy,” the company said in its official policy statement.
Many drivers have also installed plastic guards in between the front and back seats to minimize health risks during rides.
Uber’s main competition, Lyft, has instituted similar policies. It requires mandatory face masks and personal health certification from its drivers. Lyft is also making cleaning supplies and masks available for riders, drivers, and vehicles.
Most U.S.-Based Airlines
As travelers long to get back to vacations, many U.S.-based airlines have put a mandatory face mask policy in place. These include American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, JetBlue and United. United Airlines even clamped down its requirement with a statement telling customers that “any passenger that does not comply when onboard a United flight will be placed on an internal travel restriction list. Customers on this list will lose their travel privileges on United for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review.”
Make sure to check each airline’s specific mask policy before booking travel. These policies are updated frequently as the pandemic continues.
As mentioned above, AMC will now require its guests to wear face masks while watching movies at their locations.
“As we reopen our theaters, we now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy the movies at our theaters,” the company said in a June 19 press release. “The speed with which AMC moved to revise our mask policies is a reflection of our commitment to the safety and health of our guests.”
It is absolutely crucial that we listen to our guests. With the full support of our scientific advisors, we are reversing course and are changing our guest mask policy. We now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theatres. pic.twitter.com/DxS9pTjwSi
— AMC Theatres (@AMCTheatres) June 19, 2020
Major Theme Parks (Disney, Universal, Cedar Point)
The coronavirus hit the nation’s theme park in unprecedented ways and now they are slowly easing their way back to welcoming guests.
Walt Disney World and Disneyland have only shut down park admissions a handful of times since opening, so the months-long closure is unlike anything they’ve experienced. Over the past few weeks, Disney Parks has announced a phased re-opening of their resorts and parks. And yes, a face mask will be required for guests who want to go back to the park starting July 11. A full list of guidelines can be found on each park’s website.
Universal Orlando Resort also has an entire section on its official website dedicated to guest safety guidelines. The parks opened June 5 and all guests must have a temperature check and wear face masks to enter the parks.
Cedar Fair Entertainment Company parks now require all guests over the age of 2 to wear a face mask. A new park reservation system will also help assure crowd control as people make their way back to the parks. Cedar Fair properties have been opening up starting June 12, and will continue to do so throughout next month: Kings Island in Mason, Ohio is scheduled to resume business on July 2 and roller coaster capital Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio opens on July 9.
Whether or not you agree with the CDC’s recommendation, you’ll be required to follow the rules of these companies if you choose to patronize these businesses. Just keep in mind this is not a complete list, and your local retailers may have additional face mask-wearing policies as well. Things change quickly in the COVID-19 world.