Majority of customers wear face masks inside local supermarkets
It sure is different these days when taking a trip out to the supermarket.
From face masks to other social distancing measures, the experience has unquestionably seen plentiful change in recent months since the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
While it’s often been debated whether customers should wear face masks upon entering businesses, getting them to do so has hardly been an issue at supermarkets in the area.
In fact, the vast majority of customers who shop at Country Harvest Family Market in Palmerton have, according to store co-owner Chris Anthony.
“Most customers are wearing face masks, some are not,” Anthony said. “The state originally came out with a mandate, but they said that we would have to allow an exception for anybody who had a medical condition, which would require them to wear a mask, or anyone under (the age of) 2.”
Anthony cited other states where customers have actually sued businesses for violating their rights with the Americans With Disabilities Act “because they didn’t allow them access to the store because they didn’t wear face masks.
“The state has put us in a situation,” Anthony said. “We’re simply trying to follow the rules as best as we can.”
Anthony noted that the store has posted that face masks are required unless customers have a medical condition, or are under the age of 2.
“We’re erring on the side of caution and requiring our employees to continue wearing masks,” he said. “Whether it’s required or not, I don’t know; I don’t have the answer.”
Anthony said there are some businesses in the borough that aren’t requiring customers to wear face masks.
“It’s very unclear, very vague,” he said. “It shouldn’t be that way, in my opinion.”
Anthony said that since COVID-19 broke out, his business has practiced social distancing measures from the get-go.
“All we want to do is follow the rules, whatever they are,” he said. “But it helps to know.”
Cases still reported
People shouldn’t be complacent, the Pennsylvania Department of Health warns.
This weekend the department confirmed 1,126 cases of COVID-19.
On Sunday, 505 additional positive cases of COVID-19 were reported. On Saturday, 621 cases were reported. The statewide total is 85,496. There are 6,606 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, an increase of 27 over the weekend.
Officials in western Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County are pulling back, halting all on-site consumption of alcohol in bars and restaurants due to what they call an “alarming” spike in COVID-19 cases.
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Dr. Debra Bogen, the county health department director, said the recent spike has been largely among young people and involved out-of-state travel, often including night life during travel, and going to local bars and restaurants.
Under the order to go into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday, bars and restaurants can remain open but won’t be allowed to serve alcohol other than takeout options allowed by the state. In addition, masks will be enforced in restaurants until food arrives, and outdoor seating is being encouraged.
The county reported an additional 96 cases Sunday, six higher than the previous high of 90 on Saturday, and a total of 393 in the past seven days.
Bogen said she was “very concerned” not only by the rapid rise in cases but because most cases had no known source, indicating they were “community spread.”
Few problems here
There’s also been nary a problem with customers wearing face masks into Redner’s Warehouse Markets in Nesquehoning, according to store director Ryan Haydt.
“For the most part, everyone’s been wearing their mask,” Haydt said. “We’ve had a few people get a little testy, (but) for the most part, people are conforming to that.”
However, Haydt noted, “We don’t enforce it. They’re all understanding of it.”
While attempts to speak with personnel at both Giant Food Store and Walmart along Route 443 proved unsuccessful, Ashley Flower, manager, public relations for the Giant Company, shared the company’s viewpoint on the matter.
“Regarding masks, I can tell you that we continue to comply with local government orders regarding masks,” Flower said. “However, we will not turn anyone away if a medical condition prevents them from wearing a mask.”
The majority of people are wearing masks, but others do not, according to readers who ask if the rules can be better enforced.
Shoppers wore their masks Wednesday morning while inside Mallard Market in Lehighton, where a sign greets customers as they approach the entrance telling them that masks are required for service.
Allen Berger of Lehighton said he wore his mask because it’s required.
“In a way, it’s kind of annoying, but if it does save lives, it’s OK with me,” Berger said. “I’ve seen people (elsewhere) that don’t have them, but other people (just) don’t care.”
Jagrr Sicher of Lehighton also had his mask on and said he believes it’s the right thing to do.
“Honestly, I think it’s more beneficial,” Sicher said. “The only thing I fear for people with asthma and other respiratory issues.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.