Columbus shops deal with customers who can’t wear face coverings


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COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The emergency order mandating facial coverings in Franklin County is supposed to provide a uniform facial covering policy across all of Columbus and Franklin County, but what about people with health issues?

Franklin County Public Health is not providing any guidelines on how stores should handle people with health issues preventing them from wearing a face covering, prompting different policies depending on which story shoppers go to.

“The thing is just to respect people’s decision and what they’re trying to do,” said Tim Emery of Boston’s, a restaurant in the Short North.

Face coverings are required in Franklin County based on Gov. Mike DeWine’s mandate, which went into effect last week, and the signs are posted on nearly every business. Some signs state there are “absolutely no exceptions.”

The mask mandate from Franklin County Public Health does include some exceptions, one being if a doctor says it’s not safe for someone to wear a mask.

So, how does someone prove that to a store employee who tells that person to wear a mask?

Franklin County Public Health leaves that decision up to the business.

“In that type of situation, we take them at their face value,” Emery said.

He said Boston’s is not looking to turn customers away and isn’t asking customers for proof they can’t wear a mask. He’ll still serve them.

“If they have that issue, we don’t require them to wear it,” Emery said. “We haven’t really had that situation arise.”

“We definitely give the customer the benefit of the doubt almost always,” said Micahel Ybanez of the Columbus Running Company.

The Columbus Running Company won’t turn customers away either, but takes a different approach to helping the customer.

“We’re going to ask them then set up an appointment with us,” Ybanez said. “Just this past week, we scheduled a couple already where we’ve had customers come in, opened before our regular hours, and we’ve fit them and offered them the service that we normally do in a controlled environment.”

As health officials try to slow the spread of COVID-19, some store owners said they want to protect their employees and customers.

One manager said as long as there’s a mandate, he will ask customers to leave even though it means he’ll lose business.

Right now the county  order states anyone over the age of 10 should must wear a face covering.

In addition to medical exemptions, people communicating with the hearing impaired are exempt from wearing a mask when performing in that function.

Franklin County’s mask mandate will supersede the state’s mandate, meaning the county’s mandate will remain in place if the state should lift its mask mandate in the county. Franklin County’s mandate affects only the jurisdiction of the Franklin County Public Health, which does not include Columbus and Worthington.

So far, many managers and owners said this has not been a problem for them, adding those customers who know they can’t wear a face covering should call to check the store’s policy.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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