Can businesses refuse to serve customers who don’t wear masks?

Most businesses across the U.S. have reopened after temporary shutdown orders from state governments earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Differing requirements across cities and states are often unclear, and many people are making personal decisions about when and where to wear masks.

While many businesses are encouraging customers to wear face coverings and to adhere to social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, some are requiring patrons to wear them.

Costco is among the retailers with such a requirement. The wholesale corporation began enforcing the policy on May 4.

About two weeks after announcing the mask requirement, a video of a Costco employee repeatedly asking a customer to leave a Colorado store went viral. The customer wasn’t wearing a face covering and said he made the choice because he “woke up in a free country.”

“We know some members may find this inconvenient or objectionable, but under the circumstances we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience. This is not simply a matter of personal choice; a face covering protects not just the wearer, but others too,” Costco President and CEO Craig Jelinek said in a statement. “Although some may disagree with this policy or question its effectiveness, we’re choosing to err on the side of safety in our shopping environments … We believe this simple act of safety and courtesy is one that Costco members and employees can undertake together.”

What if you don’t want to wear a mask? Can you be denied service? Is it against your rights as an American citizen to be turned away?

The short answer: (Read more)

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