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Depot reverses

Home Depot reverses mask policy; will now have enforcement ‘captains’ in stores – KUOW News and Information

On Friday, Home Depot reversed its policy on requiring customers to wear masks in its stores.

Now, the box store chain will require customers nationwide to wear masks inside its stores starting on July 22.

Home Depot will have employees dedicated to customer compliance with that policy.

This announcement comes two days after a KUOW story revealed that Home Depot’s policy was to not enforce mask wearing, despite a state ordinance requiring otherwise.

“Social distancing captains” at Home Depot stores will ask customers without a face covering to wear one, said Margaret Smith, spokesperson for Home Depot. Those without masks will be provided one.

The KUOW report focused on a single Home Depot in Tukwila, south of Seattle. This store was not enforcing a mask mandate that called on businesses to refuse service to customers without a face covering. The law went into effect on July 7 as an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as cases locally are rising.

It wasn’t the only store, however. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries received about 50 complaints about Home Depot locations around the state within the last week, according to Tim Church, spokesperson for Labor and Industries.

Church said one complaint in particular reported that about 20 customers inside one Home Depot location were without a face covering. The department of Labor and Industries spoke with Home Depot leadership on Thursday, Church said.

“We made it perfectly clear that we expect them to protect the health and safety of workers,” Church said. “A big part of that is making sure customers are wearing masks when they come into the store.”

Church said that Home Depot appeared to be “committed to being cooperative” with the Washington state mask mandate from this point forward.

Home Depot will now take a different approach to Washington state customers who refuse to mask up while inside. Smith said that while it’s too dangerous to physically deny a customer entry, if a customer becomes combative or habitually refuses to comply and wear a mask, the stores will take further action, even trespassing them from entering Home Depot stores.

KUOW learned of Home Depot’s earlier policy not to require masks from a cashier who works at the Home Depot in Tukwila. He said he was told by management not to turn away service to any customers, and that employees were to only offer masks, not require them.

He showed KUOW an email that management sent him.

“We, as a company, are putting out the signs to mandate masks, but are only able to enforce with our associates,” the email said. “We are not to turn customers away or refuse service. We can offer them a mask if we see a customer without a mask, but again, we are not to address the mandate any further.”

Smith, the Home Depot spokesperson, confirmed this earlier policy of not requiring masks in an email to KUOW.

“Where they’re required by local mandate, we’re asking customers to wear masks in our stores through signage and announcements over our PA system,” Smith said. “We have not required stores to police local mandates, because it can be dangerous to put our associates in that position.”

Social media has been plastered with videos of customers reacting aggressively when confronted by employees for not wearing a mask at other businesses in the U.S. A man at a Kansas barbecue restaurant flashed a gun at an employee after he was asked to wear a mask inside last week.

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reverses Theaters

AMC Theaters reverses course on masks after backlash – Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The nation’s largest movie theater chain changed its position on mask-wearing less than a day after the company became a target on social media for saying it would defer to local governments on the issue.

AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron said Friday that its theaters will require patrons to wear masks upon reopening, which will begin in mid-July. Customers who don’t wear masks won’t be admitted or allowed to stay.

“We think it is absolutely crucial that we listen to our guests,” Aron said. “It is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks.”

Rival chain Regal followed AMC’s lead. Spokesman Richard Grover said Friday that moviegoers must wear masks in all its theaters as well.

AMC Theaters wasn’t the first to say it would defer to officials on the mask issue. That policy was identical to what Cinemark announced earlier this month. Cineplex Inc., which has a 75% box office market share in Canada, said they will leave it up to moviegoers to decide if they wear a face mask inside their theaters. Company spokeswoman Sarah Van Lange said they are taking the lead from public health authorities and provincial guidelines. She said employees will be required to wear masks.

Most major retailers require masks for customers only where local rules mandate it.

But the AMC plan hit a nerve for many on Thursday and #boycottAMC quickly became a trending topic on Twitter.

The outrage was further flamed by one of Aron’s comments in an interview with the Hollywood trade Variety that implied that taking a hard stance on mask-wearing was a political matter.

“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” Aron said. “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary.”

He also said that he thought the “vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks” and that he planned to lead by example and would be wearing a mask himself.

The interview came on the same day that California started requiring people throughout the state to wear masks in most indoor settings and outdoors when distancing isn’t possible.

While public health officials say wearing a mask is important in helping stop the spread of COVID-19, not wearing one has become a political statement for people who say it violates their freedom or exaggerates the threat of the coronavirus. President Donald Trump has pushed back against masks, even as the virus has killed more than 100,000 Americans this year.

Full Coverage: Virus Outbreak

Earlier Friday, Alamo Drafthouse, which operates around 40 locations in the U.S. said that it would be requiring that guests wear masks at its theaters, with a caveat for eating and drinking. Those without masks, it said, would be given one. AMC plans to sell masks for $1.

Most indoor U.S. theaters have been closed since mid-March because of COVID-19. But both independent locations and major chains are readying to reopen within the next month.

AMC said it will open 450 of its U.S. locations on July 15, with the goal of having most of its theaters in operation by July 24 for the opening of Disney’s “Mulan” and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” the following week.

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AP Business Writer Tali Arbel contributed from New York. Robert Gillies contributed from Toronto.

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reverses Starbucks

Starbucks reverses stance and allows staff to wear Black Lives Matter clothing – The Guardian

Starbucks said Friday that employees will be allowed to wear clothing and accessories in support of Black Lives Matter, responding to a backlash and boycott calls after the coffee chain banned staff …
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