In new guidance about mask-wearing requirements and stores, the CDC just issued advice about how retailers can deal with the increasing violence surrounding in-store mask policies. One of the agency's most pointed warnings: "Don't argue with a customer if they make threats or become violent," the CDC says.
"The guidance follows a number of violent incidents that have occurred at businesses across the country over mask-wearing requirements. Earlier this month, a man in Pennsylvania was charged with shooting at an employee after being asked to wear a mask in a cigar shop," reports CNN. "Last month, Walmart, Home Depot, CVS and other major stores announced they would still serve customers who refuse to wear masks." Read on, and to keep yourself and others safe during this pandemic, don't miss this essential list of the Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
The CDC Gave Advice About How to Spot a Potentially Violent Customer
"Employee training on workplace violence typically covers definitions and types of violence, risk factors and warning signs for violence, prevention strategies, and ways to respond to threatening, potentially violent, or violent situations," writes the agency, continuing with:
As part of training, employees often learn verbal and non-verbal cues that may be warning signs of possible violence. Verbal cues can include speaking loudly or swearing. Non-verbal cues can include clenched fists, heavy breathing, fixed stare, and pacing, among other behaviors. The more cues shown, the greater the risk of violence.
During training, employees also learn how to appropriately respond to potentially violent or violent situations. Responses range from paying attention to a person and maintaining non-threatening eye contact to using supportive body language and avoiding threatening gestures, such as finger pointing or crossed-arms.
The CDC Recommends Retailers Do the Following to Curb Violence From Anti-Maskers
- "Offer customers options to minimize their contact with others and promote social distancing. These options can include curbside pick-up; personal shoppers; home delivery for groceries, food, and other services; and alternative shopping hours.
- Post signs that let customers know about policies for wearing masks, social distancing, and the maximum number of people allowed in a business facility.
- Advertise COVID-19-related policies on the business website.
- Provide employee training on threat recognition, conflict resolution, nonviolent response, and on any other relevant topics related to workplace violence response.
- Put in place steps to assess and respond to workplace violence. Response will depend on the severity of the violence and on the size and structure of the business. Possible responses may include reporting to a manager or supervisor on-duty, calling security, or calling 911.
- Remain aware of and support employees and customers if a threatening or violent situation occurs.
- Assign two workers to work as a team to encourage COVID-19 prevention policies be followed, if staffing permits.
- Install security systems (e.g., panic buttons, cameras, alarms) and train employees on how to use them.
- Identify a safe area for employees to go to if they feel they are in danger (e.g., a room that locks from the inside, has a second exit route, and has a phone or silent alarm)."
As for yourself, avoid violent confrontations, and do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing, wash your hands regularly, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.