Q&A with McCall Police Chief Williams regarding business rights and best practices for dealing with difficult customers:
Below, we highlight guidance that our friends in the Wood River Valley put together for their businesses. We are grateful for their willingness to share this information. We always recommend verifying that these recommendations are current and up to date with your attorney or legal adviser:
In order to provide some guidance to business owners regarding Covid-related interactions with customers, the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) was assembled. These FAQs focus on the use of face coverings which a number of business owners have elected to integrate into their in-store operating protocols. These guidelines do not advocate for or against the use of face coverings by customers as that decision is entirely at the discretion of the business owner(s). To ensure compliance with best known practices, these FAQs have been crafted with the help of community legal, health and law enforcement experts.
Suggested Guidelines on the Use of Customer Face Coverings
Q1: Why do many businesses require that their customers/vendors/patrons wear face coverings to enter their place of business?
A: Face coverings have been shown to reduce the transmission of the COVID virus and reduce the risks of infection and spread for employees and customers. The use of face coverings is a recommended best practice by Federal, State and Local governments and health agencies. It also shows commitment to reducing spread, concern and kindness for the community and can assist in keeping a business open.
Q2: Can a business legally refuse entry to their place of business if a customer refuses to wear a facemask?
A: Yes, provided that such refusal applies equally to all customers and is non-discriminatory.
Q3: If the customer is required to wear a face covering, are employees also required to do the same?
A: If you require face coverings on all customers, all employees interfacing with the public should be encouraged to wear them.
Q4: What is the legal basis that a business has to refuse entry?
A: Businesses paying a lease or owning a property have a federally recognized right to refuse entry to their place of business. This right allows restricting access for any health condition or public safety issue provided there is no discrimination under the Federal Civil Rights Act.
Q5: How should a business indicate that face coverings are required to enter a place of business?
A: Businesses should post a notice that face coverings are required to enter a place of business. Such notice should be visibly placed at the point(s) of entry.
Q6: If a customer enters a place of business over the objection of the business, what should the business do?
A: The business should reiterate that the customer should immediately leave the premises. If the customer ignores this request and insists on remaining, the business should call local law enforcement.
Q7: If a customer ignores the objection of the business and does not exit the premises, what are the potential consequences?
A: Failure to follow the business’ request creates an act of trespassing, a misdemeanor with potential fine of $1000 or more per occurrence.
Q8: If a customer undertakes any action that pollutes the air or surfaces of the premises, what are the potential consequences?
A: Any damages in excess of $1,000 to a business premises caused by a customer’s action that requires remediation, can be considered a felony, with liability for all cleanup and loss of business costs.