Jordan Payne Hay is an employment and labor law attorney at Skelton Taintor & Abbott. She offered to answer some questions we submitted to her in an effort for us to respond to the flurry of inquires we have received on face-coverings. This article is not legal advice but should be considered as general guidance in the area of employment and corporate law.
Can a business actually deny service to anyone not wearing a mask? Is this an ADA violation?
- Yes. The ADA generally prohibits public accommodations from establishing criteria that excludes individuals based on a disability, unless “the criteria are necessary for the business to operate safely in providing its goods and services,” based on actual risks (not be based on speculation, stereotypes, or generalizations). At this time, guidance from the CDC and the EEOC suggests that businesses concerned about the safety of their staff and customers should be justified in relying on state and local governments’ orders, to justify policies forbidding customers without face masks from entering their stores. As a best practice, and to avoid unwelcomed situations at the store, a business choosing to enforce such a policy should clearly communicate it to its customers (including in advance, e.g., via its website or a sign out front). The Executive Order also says, “Such businesses may deny entry or service to a person who is not wearing a covering and is not otherwise exempt from the requirement to do so.”
Retailers, grocers, food producers and other businesses across Maine are asking the public to practice kindness and respect toward workers and each other as shops, restaurants and other locations continue reopening following the unprecedented shutdown caused by COVID-19.
Read the full Let’s Be Kind Press Release
Read ‘Maine retailers urge patrons to be kind, wear masks, maintain distancing’ in the Portland Press Herald Article
“Effective Wednesday, June 17… Additionally, the Administration is also expanding capacity limits at retail establishments, allowing up to 5 customers per 1,000 square feet, given the decreasing risk associated with retail shopping and the assumption that stores will continue to require staff to wear cloth face coverings and follow strict public health precautions. This change replaces the customer limits established in a previous Executive Order.”
Looking ahead to the next phase of our “new normal” and rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, MGFPA is actively working with our government partners and members to provide an updated list of resources and guidance. We will continue to add information as it is received.
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The Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association proudly partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to distribute 75,000 cloth face coverings. To further protect the health and safety of our industry, MGFPA worked to coordinate statewide distribution to our local grocers, markets, and supermarkets as well as co-packers, dairy processors, and local food manufacturers.