New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced a new executive order allowing private stores to bar entry to customers not wearing a face covering.
“We are giving store owners the right to say, ‘If you’re not wearing a mask, you can’t come in,'” Cuomo said today in a daily press briefing. “That store owner has a right to protect themselves. That store owner has a right to protect other patrons in that store. You don’t want to wear a mask, fine — but you don’t have the right to go into that store if the store owner doesn’t want you to.”
New York had already been requiring individuals to wear face coverings in instances when social distancing is not possible, as well as while riding public transportation.
Although Cuomo’s executive order gives express permission to kick out patrons for not wearing masks, fashion law attorney and brand consultant Elizabeth Kurpis told FN earlier this month that stores likely already had the right to give mask-less shoppers the boot — “similar to a store having the right to refuse entry to those not wearing a shirt or shoes.”
However, Kurpis cautioned that: “Enforcement can get tricky though, and many stores may not be willing to create conflict or put their employees or customers at a higher risk of infection by confronting customers not wearing a mask.”
By explicitly allowing stores to bar shoppers without masks on, Cuomo’s executive order may make some store owners or employees feel more comfortable asking bare-faced customers to exit.
New York City is the only region of New York state to not yet partially reopen following mandated closures in March. All 50 U.S. states have begun to ease lockdown measures this month. As nonessential retails start to reopen, companies such as Nordstrom, Macy’s and Under Armour are taking a number of measures to keep shoppers and staff safe — including requiring workers to wear masks.