Kamloops corner store stops asking customers to mask up after threats | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops corner store stops asking customers to mask up after threats

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
July 08, 2021 - 7:00 AM

A corner store in Kamloops has revised its mask policy after staff was verbally abused, and even threatened, for asking customers to continue to wear masks inside the store.

Juniper Market in Juniper Ridge now follows the new provincial guidelines on mask wearing indoors, but until July 4, all customers and staff were asked to wear them.

"If we try and enforce a mask rule, then our staff gets beat on verbally," Juniper Market manager Lois Genge said. "You can try to tell people (to wear them), but whether they play by the rules is totally on them."

Along with verbal abuse from upset customers, Genge said one woman threatened her saying, "I'm going have someone come there and beat you up."

In another case, one employee called her because a customer intended to leave with unpaid groceries because of their mask policy.

They dealt with the disputes, without ever calling police, and made the decision to change their in-store mask policy. 

"We told staff that if they refuse, just say 'OK'. You can't argue with every customer that walks in the door," Genge said.

Although provincial health orders were relaxed on July 1, she said most of their staff is under 25 and has not received their second vaccination dose yet.

Their intention at Juniper Market was to keep the mask requirement at least until all staff was fully vaccinated, but that proved difficult when the onus was placed on businesses to maintain those rules, rather than the government.

"In a way, the government kind of left us high and dry," Genge said. "It's a catch 22. You want them to wear masks, but you cant ask them for proof of vaccination."

While the province, and the world, still grapples with COVID-19 transmission and dispersing vaccines, B.C.'s reopening has offered more flexibility to those wishing to leave their masks at home and return to social interactions.

According to public health measures, B.C. continues to recommend indoor mask wearing for anyone over the age of 12 that has not received their second vaccination.

While masks are no longer mandatory, as a private business, Genge said there should be no issue with their former policy to require everyone to continue wearing masks.

Now, it's simply mandatory for staff with signage that recommends customers mask up.

Genge believes the mask policy was lifted too early, and she will continue to wear hers until there is no more COVID-19 spread.

"I serve hundreds of people a day. I don't know who's infected," she said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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