How businesses can deal with customer conflicts over mask rules

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s newest mask mandates could present a challenge for businesses enforcing the rules against people not ready to once again wear masks indoors.

Legal experts tell FOX31 that business owners should be prepared to prevent confrontations with customers who defy public health guidelines.

Customers can be offered a choice of abiding by established guidelines, using open-air facilities or leaving the property.

Li’l Devil’s Lounge near Broadway and Alameda Avenue has maintained a loyal clientele throughout the pandemic. Owner Tony Fleith said he supports mask guidelines.

“It’s great to get the (COVID-19) numbers down,” he said.

Fleith said that while it is rare for customers to become unruly or disrespectful, anyone who does not follow public health guidelines and mandates will be asked to leave the property.

“We just refuse them, not serve them, simple, simple and done,” he said.

Legal experts tell the Problem Solvers that customers need to understand that businesses are required to follow public health mandates. It is not the “manager’s personal decision.”

How to deal with customers over COVID rules

Attorney Bryan Kuhn advised business owners to “politely ask if they will wear a mask, perhaps have temporary masks you hand out to your customers. If the customer gets belligerent or difficult, politely ask them to leave.”

Customers who make a scene or destroy property may deal with severe consequences.

“They can get into all sorts of trouble: assault or battery disturbing the peace (charges),” Kuhn said.

Businesses can file civil lawsuits as well.

‘Our hospitals are just taxed’

Dr. Erin Seedorf, a Metropolitan State University public health expert, tells FOX31 it is important to consider what the current guidelines are based on.

“Indoor spaces are places where there are higher risks of spreading COVID-19. Outdoor spaces, the risk goes down,” she said.

Seedorf added that all Colorado residents must work together to bring the number of infections and hospitalizations to safer levels.

“Right now, our hospitals are just taxed in the metro area. Some of our hospitals are at or over 90% capacity,” she said.

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