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Davis, California

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Confusion emerges over face-covering requirements as businesses enforce Yolo County policies

Essential businesses, customers face unprecedented scenarios in adapting to new policies mandated by county

Local restaurants and businesses are being asked to enforce face-covering policies after Yolo County released a health order requiring that all individuals wear face coverings in public settings. 

The health order, instituted on April 27, requires individuals to wear face-coverings while shopping in grocery stores, picking up food or going to see a healthcare provider. Those who do not comply are not likely to be fined, but businesses are encouraged to refuse those who do not adhere to the policy, according to a Yolo County press release

“Individual violators are unlikely to be cited however essential businesses and other enterprises will be expected to enforce this order,” the release read. 

The health order explained more in-depth specifics regarding actions businesses can take to remind customers of the requirement. 

“In addition, an Essential Business must also take reasonable measures, such as

posting signs, to remind their customers and the public of the requirement that

they wear a Face Covering while inside of or waiting in line to enter the business,

facility, or location,” the order read.

Businesses should take all “reasonable steps” to remove those who do not wear masks in a business, yet the order also specifically states that, “Nothing in this Order, however, requires or encourages the use of physical force, threats, or intimidation.”

Despite providing businesses with the policies outlined in the health order, there is some confusion among customers and businesses about the finer details of the policy and when it becomes necessary to ask customers to remove their masks, if at all. 

Hannah Stevens, a graduate student at UC Davis in the department of communication, was asked to remove her mask while purchasing alcohol at Save Mart. 

“I gave the lady my ID, and then she stared at me for a moment — like she was waiting for something. Then she said, ‘Take your mask off please,’” Stevens said. 

Stevens, who is 25-years-old, said it is not uncommon for her to be asked for identification while purchasing alcohol, but she was uncomfortable with the idea of touching her face to remove her mask after touching her money, her ID and other items in the store. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, those wearing a mask in public are encouraged to limit face touching, or to clean their “hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately, before putting on, after touching or adjusting, and after removing the cloth face covering.”

Stevens said there were no signs or written indications stating that she was required to remove her mask for identification while purchasing alcohol. 

“I did think it was a little bit odd because I have gone to other stores since social distancing, and I’ve never been asked to take off my mask — even if I’m buying alcohol,” she said. 

In an email to The California Aggie, Save Mart explained its policies during the shelter-in-place order, including instituting the “required social distancing measures,” and posting signs for customers “informing of face coverings requirements.” Save Mart officials added that the “Davis Save Mart store policy is to follow the established guidelines from Yolo County.” There is no mention of requiring those purchasing alcohol to remove their face covering for proper identification in the county’s health order. 

Situations like these mark confusion experienced by customers and businesses alike in adapting to the new shelter-in-place policies without specific instructions from the county. Restaurants, grocery stores and other essential businesses face unprecedented scenarios while trying to balance remaining open for sales and keeping staff and customers healthy. 

Generally, most Davis citizens do seem receptive to the face-covering order and following social distancing rules. Derar Zawaydeh, the co-owner of Crepeville and Burgers and Brew, said nearly everyone who comes to pick up food is wearing a mask.  

“We really haven’t had to refuse service to anyone, which is a good thing,” Zawaydeh said. “I want to say 95%, if not more, [wear masks]. Hardly you get someone who comes in without a mask, and then we tell them that it is required.”

Though he does not feel like the face-covering requirement is currently preventing people from picking up food, Zawaydeh expressed some concern over the effects of restaurants opening back up for in-person dining. 

“I don’t know how that will affect business in the long term, when things are better in general, whether people will still be compliant or not,” Zawaydeh said.

That uncertainty seems to be a common theme, as essential businesses work with customers toward enforcing policies that will prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Written by: Madeleine Payne — city@theaggie.org


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