NC Mask Mandate Lifted: Here’s How To Handle It As A Small Business
Jane, an entrepreneur from Asheville, asked us this question:
“Embracing that the new NC executive order leaves it up to businesses to decide whether to require masks for customers, do you have any advice or recommendations for small businesses on how to handle this?”
Following guidance from the CDC that fully vaccinated individuals can safely do most activities without wearing a mask or the need to social distance from others, NC Governor Roy Cooper removed the state’s indoor mask mandate for most settings. NC has also lifted all mass gathering limits and social distancing requirements. But with this big news came very little direction for businesses.
After being thrown back and forth this past year with all the different rules and regulations — capacity restrictions, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, etc. — it’s no surprise that this new order came as a shock for many small business owners. Especially since people who are not vaccinated are being told they should still wear a mask and maintain distance in all indoor public settings and in outdoor settings when they can’t maintain six feet of distance.
The new question for small businesses now: to mask, or not to mask.
We’re here to help you through yet another confusing challenge. Here’s some advice on how to handle it as a small business owner.
Stick to your mask policy, whatever it may be.
As a business owner, you make the rules for your place of business. If you want to continue having employees and customers wear masks, that is your right. If you want to relax your mask mandate, that is also your right. Do what feels right for you and your team, train your employees on your policy, communicate to the public what that policy is (loud and clear!), and stick to it.
Set up special shopping times for those with compromised immune systems.
Many stores and shopping centers have carved out a few hours on specific days for those who were compromised or at greater risk of getting COVID-19. That doesn’t need to stop now that the mask mandate has been lifted. Continue showing this group of customers that you want them to be as comfortable as possible during this stressful time. If you haven’t already set up special shopping times for this group, now is a great time to do so.
Keep social distancing top of mind.
If you find that relaxing your mask mandate is the best course of action for your small business, that doesn’t mean you can’t still continue your social distancing practices.
No matter what, stay calm.
This is a confusing time for small business owners everywhere. No advice or recommendations have been given on how to handle this situation, and all the responsibility has been placed on your shoulders. You don’t need to be the vaccine police, but you do need to do what is safe and comfortable for your team, your customers, and yourself. You might face backlash from the public no matter what you decide to change your mask policy to. Just remember to stay calm, stick to your guns, and support your team however you can in this time.