This article originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention @SecBusinessMag on Twitter and Security Business magazine on LinkedIn.
You can debate the pros and cons of wearing a mask to protect yourself and others from the spread of coronavirus until you are – pun intended – blue in the face. On one extreme, you have the finger-waggers who don’t think you should set foot out of your home with or without one; on the other extreme, you have people who passionately say that mask requirements infringe on their freedom.
In my neck of the woods, the debate has risen to a comical level, with our governor taking the extraordinary step of bringing a lawsuit against the mayor of his state’s largest city to stop government-mandated mask requirements.
Thankfully, none of it will matter anymore, because capitalism has taken charge here.
A couple of weekends ago, I visited a Best Buy, looking for a bigger, smarter TV to satiate my children’s increasingly alarming appetite for streaming content. To my surprise, I saw a giant sign affixed to the wall of the building that essentially read, “No mask, no service.” They even had free masks at the entrance for those who didn’t have one.
While Best Buy wasn’t the first – Costco, famously, was the first major retailer to require masks for shoppers – it certainly was one of the first to create a groundswell of support for the requirement. As I write this, the biggest retailers have all adjusted their policies to require masks for shoppers – many heeding the call of the National Retail Federation (NRF).“NRF applauds the leadership of companies like Walmart, Starbucks, Best Buy, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Apple, Qurate Retail Group, Costco and others that have implemented nationwide mask mandates,” the organization said in a statement on July 15, the day that Walmart – the world’s largest retailer – enacted a mask policy.
Since then, others have followed, including Target, Dollar Tree, and the nation’s largest supermarket operator, Kroger, which operates nearly 3,000 retail locations under various brand names.
“With the increase in COVID-19 cases across the country, as America’s grocer, we are committed to doing our part to help reduce the spread of the virus,” Kroger said in an issued statement. “As an employer, grocery provider and community partner, we have a responsibility to help keep our associates, customers and communities safe.”
This move by retail has effectively circumvented the political nonsense that pervaded the so-called “mask debate” – as well as any local mandates. The bottom line: If you don’t want to wear a mask, good luck getting groceries or pretty much any other essentials.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, retailers of all sizes have been on the front lines safely serving customers and supporting their communities,” the NRF stated. “Stores are private businesses that can adopt policies permitted by law for the health and safety of their associates and their customers. Shopping in a store is a privilege, not a right.”
A week after my Best Buy experience, my family got out of the house and went to a traditional outdoor mall with more than 140 stores – the majority of which not only required masks, but also went so far as to limit the number of people in a store at any given time. The result? I didn’t see a single person without a mask.
The direct line to security business owners is, of course, the technologies that can be provided to track mask usage, such as video analytics. From a broader perspective, simply be thankful for the fact that many of your consumer-facing retail customers are indeed doing their part to keep you and your employees safe and healthy enough to report to work on Monday morning.