NACS to CDC: Protect Retail Employees from Mask Confrontations

NACS, along with nine groups, asked the agency to clarify that businesses should not shoulder the enforcement burden of mask wearing.

August 04, 2021

Man holds out a mask

WASHINGTON—Once again, retailers are facing confusing guidance on mask wearing and enforcement, as the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to infect Americans. This week, NACS joined nine other associations in a letter requesting clarification on the recently issued CDC mask guidance, as that the enforcement burden should not be placed on retail employees. The letter was sent to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration Acting Assistant Secretary James Frederick and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky.

The letter asked the agencies “to prioritize the safety of our employees and clarify that businesses should not be the enforcers of mask wearing.” The letter pointed out how embattled frontline retail employees have been during the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to serve the public with food, fuel and other necessities. When some localities put the onus of mask enforcement on retailers, many confrontations became heated and physical, including several deaths related to mask enforcement.

“Preserving the safety and well-being of retail employees is imperative,” NACS wrote in the joint letter. “Store employees are not prepared to enforce health restrictions. Requiring them to do so presents the potential for confrontations fueled by anger that can turn violent quickly. That is not worth the risk. While state and local governments pass and enforce their own policies, we urge you to lead on this worker safety issue by publicly stating that in jurisdictions that decide to require masks, the burden of enforcement should not be placed on businesses and their employees.”

The Asian American Hotel Owners Association; The Energy Marketers of America; FMI, The Food Industry Association; International Franchise Association; National Association of Truckstop Operators; National Grocers Association; National Retail Federation and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America joined NACS in signing the letter.

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis, including information about how to educate employees about the vaccines and other vaccine-related human resources advice. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.