Mask rules lack teeth as retailers reluctant to play police

SPECIAL REPORT — With several Canadian locales requiring masks to be worn indoors, and more U.S. retailers adopting similar policies banner-wide, confusion reigns over who is responsible for their enforcement. Reports of harassment and assault against employees have made retailers even more reluctant to add yet more demands of their front-line workers. In the event that a customer refuses outright to abide by the rules, retailers have few options beyond calling the police or refusing service.

Earlier this month, when Quebec unveiled its indoor masking rule, it initially established fines only for businesses who fail to enforce the rules, leaving individual penalties to a later announcement. The province’s Retail Council of Canada branch objected to the onus being put on retailers. In Ontario, cities including Toronto and Ottawa have bylaws with similar effect. Several U.S. chains with masking policies, including Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe’s, have said they won’t enforce them on customers. “We will not ask our associates to put their safety at risk by confronting customers about wearing masks,” a Lowe’s rep told CNN.