Severe business call: Do you need a mask?

Lewiston — A Maine company already suffering from a labor shortage will face additional testing on Monday to see if it needs a mask.

Last week, the state removed the obligation of the public to mask indoors. Starting Monday, it’s up to the company and organization to decide whether to ask the customer to wear a mask, ask for proof of vaccination, or neither. No matter what they do, business owners and supporters say they will face anti-aircraft guns.

Starting Monday, the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people who have not been vaccinated with COVID masks, but the state no longer requires them.

Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long continues that Maine continues to lead the nation in the number of vaccinated people over the age of 18, with only a small majority (56%) of the total population fully vaccinated. Said that.

“It’s also important to note that the recommendations for unvaccinated people to wear masks indoors haven’t changed,” Long said in an email Friday. “Whether all Maine businesses and organizations other than schools, child care programs, and public transport need masks, vaccination evidence, or other means to limit the potential spread of the virus. You can decide on your own. “

According to the Main CDC, businesses and other organizations adopt a policy of requiring masks, vaccinations, or proof of vaccination to avoid wearing masks for employees and clients. It may be.

Shanakox, Executive Director of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce at Lewiston Headquarters. Rathdy Lingam / Sun Journal Buy this photo

Shanakox, chairman of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, said business owners are in a difficult situation. “How do you know who is vaccinated?” Cox asked. “No one is preparing. No tools.”

Checking the vaccination card would put employees in a position of conflict with some customers, she said. And the customer presenting the vaccination card asks, “How do you know if it is a legitimate document?”

As a result, it is expected that many businesses and organizations, such as Portland’s main mall and some major retailers, will allow unmasked customers and will not seek proof of vaccination.

Hannaford supermarkets ask unvaccinated people to wear masks.

According to a statement released by Hannaford spokesman Eric Brom, “Individuals who have been fully vaccinated with COVID-19 are excluded from states and towns where local laws and ordinances require the use of masks. And you don’t have to wear a mask at the store. ” “Individuals who have not been vaccinated with COVID-19 are required to wear a mask while shopping.”

Hannaford wouldn’t need proof of vaccination, Brom said.

However, some business owners who were contacted said masks would continue to be needed, premature and too few were fully vaccinated.

At Baxter Brewing in Lewiston, customers and workers are required to wear masks at restaurants and breweries.

Caitlin Page, Operations Manager at Baxter Pub in Lewiston, said the brewery and pub will continue to require staff and patrons to wear masks to ensure safety. Submitted photo

“I understand plans to reopen and relax restrictions, but I will continue to request masks while I’m not sitting, both indoors and outdoors,” Baxter Pub Manager Caitlin Page said in an email. ..

“We will not make any immediate changes to the protocol implemented in April,” she said.

She said the 6-foot social distance rule would remain, indoor capacity would not be expanded, and workers would remain masked for the protection of them and the public.

The page admits that Baxter’s protocol is more stringent than the main CDC, but the company feels it’s best in terms of worker and customer safety.

Androscogin home care + hospice thrift shops also stick to masking and social distance, said President Ken Albert.

According to guidance from the US CDC and the Main CDC, the mask should be worn by people who are not completely vaccinated, Albert said in an email Friday. And Androscoggin County’s COVID -19 rate remains the highest in Maine and the United States, he said. On the other hand, county vaccination rates are lower than the state average.

According to Cox, what many companies do is a sign that the main CDC wears masks on unvaccinated people and expects the honor system to work.

“I hope people keep the CDC’s recommendations in mind,” she said. She said the signboards are at event venues and businesses. “We want to believe that 99% of the people walking our doors will do the right thing.”

Locally, many hospitality companies are following Baxter’s initiative to require all customers to wear masks to protect workers and customers, Cox said. However, experience varies by company and organization. She said it would probably be confusing.

Androscoggin County lags behind the state average in vaccinated populations, although it may be appropriate for the state as a whole to be revealed, Cox said. “And what is lost (in discussion) is that the majority of the population under the age of 11 is unable to be vaccinated.”

She is worried that the lack of national masking obligations can polarize and harass people in several ways. It can also throw anti-maskers at people who continue to wear masks due to safety concerns. Alternatively, one might think that a shopper wearing a mask was not vaccinated when he was vaccinated, but he is worried that others are not vaccinated. I will.

The chairman of the Chamber of Commerce said he hoped that the relaxation of the COVID-19 restriction would not lead to an increase in the number of cases.

“We are aware of what is at stake: a future shutdown,” Cox said. “We all know what can happen. We have experienced it.”

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