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How will South Florida businesses enforce face masks?

Lawyer explains rights as customer, business owner
Posted at 4:05 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 18:40:45-04

HOBE SOUND, Fla. — Despite mask mandates becoming a thing of the past, some local businesses are still asking people to mask up.

So what are your rights as a customer and business owner?

Facebook Q&A: How will businesses enforce face masks?

Inside the Hobe Sound Beach Shop, even the mannequins are wearing a fask mask. And despite Gov. Ron Desantis suspending all local government mandates in place due to COVID-19, the small business is still requiring customers to mask up.

"Ninety-nine percent of the people that come here are happy to mask up. They prefer it and they feel safer," said Barb McLaughlin, the owner of the Beach Shop.

The Beach Shop store policy will remain because some staff members have not been vaccinated yet.

"When customers come in, we have no way to know if they've been vaccinated or not, and they can actually in fact infect the rest of us," McLaughlin said.

But other businesses have dropped the mask requirement, and Michael Westheimer, a lawyer with GED Lawyers in Boca Raton, said private companies can have their own protocol.

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"Local businesses can still enact their own policies as it relates to the health, safety and welfare of its population," Westheimer said.

Westheimer said you can't be fined or arrested for not wearing a mask inside a business that requires it, but the store can enforce it.

"They legally have a right to make you leave, as it doesn't prohibit them from any other violation of other applicable laws," Westheimer said.

In the meantime, McLaughlin said she will rethink the Beach Shop's policy once the rest of its staff is vaccinated.

"Better safe than sorry," she said. "We don't want our customers to get sick and we don't want our staff to get sick."