Governor Tom Wolf (D-PA) and his Secretary of Health, Dr Richard Levine¹, issued mandatory face mask orders. Issued on July 1, 2020, the order was to be effective immediately, “and will remain in effect until further notice.” The Governor’s office further noted that “The mask-wearing order will be sent to state and local officials, law enforcement and others tasked with education about the order for those not in compliance.”
Though we have previously noted that federal District Court Judge William S Stickman IV ruled some of the executive orders to be unconstitutional, the mandatory face mask order was not among them.
Which raises the obvious question: who is going to enforce these rules? From The Philadelphia Inquirer:
by Juliana Feliciano Reyes | September 21, 2020 | 5:00 AM EDT
When she was working as a cashier this summer at a Walmart store in Northeast Philadelphia, a 20-year-old woman said she would see customers wearing their masks under their chins or not wearing them at all, but it didn’t make sense to make a whole big scene,” especially if the line at her register was long. She worried that her manager would get mad at her if she slowed down the line while dealing with maskless customers.
At a Philadelphia Rite Aid, a worker in her 60s was instructed to alert her manager if a customer was refusing to put on a mask. But managers, she said, usually don’t want to get involved.
And at a Rittenhouse Square Starbucks, a 24-year-old barista said that sometimes customers get belligerent when she asks them to put on a mask. They ask for her name and say they’ll file a complaint with corporate, before storming out. Add that to the list of other inconsiderate things customers do, she said, like stick their heads around the acrylic glass barrier that’s meant to protect both workers and customers.
“People act like our safety doesn’t matter,” said the barista, who, like most of the workers interviewed for this story, asked that her name not be used out of fear of retaliation at work.
There’s more at the original. But the thrust of the story is clear: the Governor and the Secretary of Health may have ordered this, but they have, for the greatest part, left it up to store managers and their employees to enforce it. Virtually none of these people are trained in this, nor do they want to do it.
Are the Governor and Secretary expecting that Walmart managers have police powers?
I would note here that all of the interviewees noted worked in the city of Philadelphia, and Philadelphia County gave 584,025 votes, 82.53% of the total, to Hillary Clinton in 2016, and just 108,748 votes, 15.37%, to Donald Trump. Philadelphia has been dominated by the Democratic Party for decades, and a Democrat has been mayor since January 7, 1952. The last time the City of Brotherly Love had a Republican mayor, George VI was King of England. So it seems rather unlikely that these maskless customers were all evil Trumpelstiltskins.
“If a customer doesn’t want to wear a face covering, our health ambassadors notify a member of management, who will talk to the customer and try to find a solution,” Walmart spokesperson Casey Staheli said.
“Find a solution”? That does not mean throw them out or refuse the customers service, does it?
Meade’s Do It Center, my local hardware and building supply store in Irvine, Kentucky, has a rather obvious solution: there’s a big white sign on the store entrance door which says, “No Mask, No Service,” and has a rack of free masks right inside the entrance. The customer is notified, at the beginning, that the store will not accept their business if they do not comply, and potential customers then have the choice: to comply, or take their business elsewhere.
These stores are private businesses, on private property. While I do not agree that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania — or the Commonwealth of Kentucky,² for that matter — have the authority to issue mandatory mask orders in the first place, private property owners do have every right to dictate who may or may not enter their premises, under what conditions. And the Governor of Pennsylvania has left it up to private businesses to enforce Dr Levine’s orders. As we previously noted, the Philadelphia City Council cut the budget for the city’s Police Department, so it isn’t as though businesses can get the police to help them.
The various state governors have been issuing health orders, and then putting the burden on private citizens to enforce them. Just how wrong can Governor Wolf get?
¹ – Richard Levine claims to be a woman named Rachel, but, consistent with my website’s, The First Street Journal’s, stylebook, I always refer to him by his given name and proper pronouns.
² – We have previously noted that the Lexington, Kentucky, Police Department has said that it cannot enforce Governor Andy Beshear’s (D-KY) orders on private property.
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