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Let’s Make Mask Wearing Mandatory at Most Retail Establishments

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So there were two hair stylists from a Great Clips in Springfield, Mo., who tested positive for COVID-19 after working in close contact with 140 customers. After this was learned, a coronavirus breakout was expected among the customers who visited the business.

It never happened. None of the 140 customers contracted COVID-19.

The reason? They were all wearing masks.

“There are definite lessons we can learn from this,” Dr. Claudia Hoyen, director of pediatric infection control at Cleveland’s University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, told Cleveland.com. “This is a good example of why we all should be wearing masks.”

I’ll take it a step further. I say it should be a national law to wear masks in most public places for the next several weeks or months to quell the spread of the coronavirus, which is surging in several states. I offer up a few exceptions, like gyms, where wearing a mask is difficult to do, and people traffic is light. But if we are collectively wearing masks most of the time and at most of the places we visit, we will collectively quell the virus and all be safer.

And the economy will get better, too. We can all see the damage the national shutdown has done to many of the country’s retailers. The unemployment rate is in double digits and another retail chain seems to declare bankruptcy every other day. The current surge in COVID-19 cases could lead states to again shut down parts of their economies, which could lead to even more people out of work and more bankruptcies.

On Thursday, experts forecast there will be 179,106 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. by Oct. 1. But those experts said that a universal mask-wearing order in the U.S. could save as many as 33,000 lives.

I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to wear a mask to help save lives and businesses. It’s simply the right thing to do. And if a successful vaccine arrives early next year, then the masks can come off.

Still, it’s stupefying how people and politicians have turned this into a political and religious issue. Unfortunately, many of them aren’t going to change.

I also doubt our president will introduce a mask-wearing policy. And while some of our governors have introduced them, unfortunately, some of them haven’t because of the political hot potato the issue has become.

This means that retailers themselves must take up the cause. If you’re a grocer or a drug store or a department store, require your customers to wear masks. Now. (Hey Walmart, at least require this policy in states where coronavirus cases are surging.)

I believe that most people will wear masks. I think (I hope) it’s a low percentage of people who refuse to do so. I also believe the biggest problem is people simply remembering to wear masks or just being lazy about it. But if these people are required to wear them at retailers, they can’t forget and they can no longer be lazy about it.

Perhaps it’s time for some of the national retail and food associations to take up the cause and formally suggest that their member businesses introduce mask-wearing policies.

While some retailers have already implemented such policies, many others are still riding the fence.

It’s time for them to get off the fence.

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