Businesses have authority to mandate masks, Upstate lawyer says


GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Businesses across South Carolina are finding ways to safely reopen. But how much can they actually enforce safety guidelines for customers?

Costco customer Nicole Albert says the big box store is already doing a good job amid the pandemic.

“They’re not letting just massive amounts of people in so they’re definitely being careful about that,” Albert said.

Starting Monday, Costco will take it a step further by requiring all customers wear protective masks.

“If they’re going to start to reopen the stores and let you go out and do what you have to do at least be responsible about it,” Albert said.

We caught up with Albert in the parking lot. She says she’d wear a mask even if it wasn’t required.

“There’s really no way to know when it’s safe and when it’s not, and I’m more of a ‘better safe than sorry’ kind of person,” she said.

But not everyone thinks that way, so we found out–does a business like Costco have the right to mandate masks?

“Wearing a mask going into a store should be mandatory across the country,” local attorney John Reckenbeil said.

According to him, businesses do have that authority.

“You have the right to refuse service to an individual that you deem a health or safety risk to your business,” he said.

He said any business is in the right to require something like this, but does suggest having signage so your customers know the rules.

“You must enforce it equally across the board, you can’t make any exceptions,” Reckenbeil said.

He said South Carolina is in a better place than some states like New York.

“How would we feel right now with thousands upon thousand upon thousands of people dying?” he questioned.

He said that since the governor has deemed it safe enough to open some businesses, people who need to go out should do their part to stay safe.

“We have it made. We are lucky here. And so why would we want to risk these very simple things to do?”

Albert agrees, and says although some may worry about their personal rights, we’re all in this together.

“It’s not your right to infect someone else when you maybe unknowingly have it or are carrying it. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask people to take care of other people.”

Even though it’s not required to wear a mask out in public, the CDC suggests that you do.

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