In its new guidelines, rolled out this week, the CDC has also advised business owners to beef up security, including by installing “panic buttons, cameras, alarms” in light of incidents that have seen customers take out their anger with the coronavirus-related restrictions on fellow customers or employees.
“Workers may be threatened and assaulted as businesses try to put into place COVID-19 prevention policies and practices (e.g., mandatory use of masks, social distancing, and limits on the number of customers allowed in a business),” the CDC states in its newly-released rulebook.
The guidance discourages employees from insisting that customers abide by the restrictions when the former “appear upset or violent.”
“Don’t argue with a customer if they make threats or become violent,” the CDC says, suggesting that if customers appear to be at their boiling point, employees should instead flee and hole up in a safe space, “ideally, a room that locks from the inside, has a second exit route, and has a phone or silent alarm.”
A video showing a Toronto man flipping out over a pizza shop patron without a facemask has gone viral, with internet observers noting that the individual in question was not even wearing his own face covering properly.
In the clip, a furious man approaches an unmasked customer waiting for his food at a ‘Pizza Pizza’ chain restaurant. After being pushed away, the self-declared mask enforcer screams, “What the f**k! You assaulted me! Call 9-11!” He then proceeds to smash a glass display containing pizzas with his bare hand, before pushing it off the counter. The display can be heard shattering as it hits the ground.
— blogTO (@blogTO) July 31, 2020
Many comments speculated that the violent outburst could be the result of mental health issues.
I think some ppl are borderline psychotic and the stress of Covid19 puts them over the edge.
— Phyllis Workman (@Philebuster) July 31, 2020
Toronto requires masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces. Similar policies adopted by the British and German authorities have sparked protests in those countries. In the Netherlands, the government has said it will not advise the public to wear face masks, arguing that there is not enough proof that they are effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19.
At the same time, the CDC argues that if businesses have two workers watching over customers “to encourage COVID-19 prevention policies” are followed, it would reduce the chance of incidents.
The guidance was released as debate over the efficacy of mandatory mask rules is heating up. A series of viral videos have shown mask-related brawls between passengers on the same flight, customers in stores and even outside in the open air.