Booksellers to CDC: In My Store, You Mask Up

From Publishers Weekly:

Many independent bookstore owners and managers across the country view the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s loosening of mask guidelines for vaccinated people as a failure of public policy, according to a recent informal survey by PW. Of the 31 booksellers we spoke with, 47% said the guidelines—which advise that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most settings—are unclear and unhelpful, while another 33% said the announcement makes no difference for their bookstore’s operations. Only one in five respondents reported finding the guidelines useful. Two-thirds say they will continue to require masks in their stores.

For Nicole Sullivan at BookBar in Denver, the announcement was a frustrating disruption to her store’s careful planning. “We were unprepared for this, so we scrambled to come up with policies and messaging,” she said. BookBar will continue to require masks indoors, until “the U.S. vaccination rate is at 70% and vaccines have been approved for children under 12 years of age.” As of the third week of May, Colorado’s vaccination rate was just shy of 42%.

Other booksellers cited vaccine distribution disparities as a major factor in their decision to continue to require masks. Chris Abouzeid, co-owner of Belmont Books in Belmont, Mass., called the guidance “overly broad.” His store is in a county that was pummeled by the virus, and, he said, “the safety of all our employees and customers remains our top priority. We will continue to require masks at all times in the store until we can be sure that either everyone is vaccinated or the risk of infection has been reduced enough to no longer be a concern.”

Kenny Brechner, owner of Devaney, Doak, and Garrett Booksellers in Farmington, Maine, said he deeply resents the guidance. “I will be continuing to require masks because the safety of unvaccinated children and immunocompromised customers is a paramount concern,” he noted. “Losing the business of people who do not respect that is a cost I would rather pay than the alternative.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

As background, PG and Mrs. PG were vaccinated for COVID at the first opportunity. They have also abided by government mask mandates and retail establishment mask signs every place they have gone.

That said, in the PGs’ local environs, government guidance has made masks optional in a great many (but not all) public places and PG and Mrs. PG have enjoyed going out and about without masks. By unscientific recent observations of the numbers of people in various commercial establishments, it appears to PG that a lot of other people enjoy going into public places without masks.

If PG was thinking about going into a local bookstore and saw a sign that required him to wear a mask, there’s a good chance he would choose to go somewhere else.

PG thinks that retailers are foolish to require prospective customers to wear masks when those who understand a great deal more about virus dangers and are in a position to mandate or not mandate masks believe it is safe for retailers to operate without masked customers. By this, PG is not saying that any squeamish retailer or retail employee who wishes to wear a mask should not be free to do so.

For some, mask-wearing has seemingly evolved from a common-sense, simple and temporary public health practice into some sort of bizarre virtue-signaling behavior.

But PG could be wrong.

19 thoughts on “Booksellers to CDC: In My Store, You Mask Up”

  1. I haven’t been in a bookstore in years. Looks like I’ll extend that record indefinitely.

    (I was about to start paying the premium to shift my food shopping to Trader Joe’s last week, but both Kroger and CostCo suddenly realized that insane virtue doesn’t sell.)

  2. I hope PG and Mrs. PG are not wrong, and that it is, indeed, safe to go out without masks for the vaccinated. We, too, got the vaccine the minute it was offered. As ‘old people’ living here made it possible for us (a few years younger than the original designation) to get the vaccine early, we have been living in a place with masks anyway – knowing some of our residents really don’t get it, and many seem to think their noses are not part of their potentially virus-laden respiratory systems.

    But I’m wearing a mask until either all borders are closed permanently, or the world is vaccinated more – there are way too many people traveling from countries with variants, and the data is not all in, CDC-regardless, about how the current vaccines will keep me from being affected by a variant. I am fragile – nothing I can do about that. But I have no desire to experience covid first-hand, and am not really sure I’d survive, as it takes everything I have to get through the night.

    Plus it’s been nice to have so much less exposure to flu viruses this past season.

    • I don’t have any problem with individuals who wish to continue to wear masks for any reason or no reason (other than robbing a bank), A.

      I’ve known a handful of individuals, all older, who have regularly worn masks during flu season long before COVID showed up and that’s definitely their right and their choice and I would never criticize them for it.

  3. PG isn’t wrong. Masks are being worn to virtue signal: those on the political left wear a mask so that no one thinks they’re on the political right.

    Regardless, there’s never been any credible research to justify wearing a mask, period. Yes, masks work at a certain rate to keep things out or in (depending on the material and quality of the mask), but for them to effectively stop viral spread *as they are worn by real life humans*, one needs a separate breathing apparatus in addition to the mask. Otherwise, one would suffocate. If you’re not suffocating and/or you can smell things through the mask, it’s not filtering the virus out.

    This is as it was explained to me repeatedly by various healthcare professionals. So as not to fall back on a logical fallacy (Appeal to Authority) by saying that: I read the enough of the literature to corroborate that, most of which is freely available online for anyone willing to slog through the specialized language of medical researchers.

    • Actually there’s been been research that sledgehammering and trying to shame folks into masking is counterproductive.

      Early on, informing people of the benefits of *protecting yourself* via mask made sense.
      But the virtue signaling and shaming isn’t about people protecting themselves but conforming to the desires of others who, today, have no way of knowing who is vaccinated or a survivor.

      If you feel more comfortable, wear one.
      (I do. Gloves, too. I have a box of each so I might as well use them. 😉
      But accept that it is a personal choice and that it won’t impact you as long as you take care of yourself.
      Live and let die.

  4. I can’t say I blame the booksellers for not trusting the CDC guidelines, since none of our public officials have been consistent with us about the virus, and people have died as a result of their leadership failures. But if I get thrown out of a bookstore for not wearing a mask, they sure as hell won’t see another cent of my money.

  5. I do understand the reluctance of many people to un-mask. They are in that category of people whose risk is not low. So, they continue the practice, and plan to for some time to come. Their choice.
    On the other hand, forcing healthy people, vaxxed or not, to mask up for YOUR fears?
    That’s a harder sell.

  6. I suspect bookstores are posturing for their customers, and customers in the bookstore are posturing for each other. Together they can feel superior to the knuckle-draggers who lack the communitarian virtues. There are just somethings up with which they won’t put.

  7. We (out here in CA) mask up, even though our household is vaccinated, because it’s the polite thing to do around people who otherwise can’t be sure of your vaccination status.

    • Good point. I expect the rest of the world to hold my feelings in such high regard that they will wear masks even though they are not a danger to me. I am special.

  8. Seems like “follow the science” was a thing – right up until it hit an ideological wall. Then it gets chucked out the window.

  9. I finally ventured out and accepted three bookstore signings. Two were letting folks do as they liked, but being the places were small, at least 90% wore masks. Just seemed like a courtesy thing but nobody felt forced so it all worked fine. The third, however, jumped on people the second they set foot in the door, telling people masks were mandatory. I was mortified at the manner in which they handled the matter, and I felt it reflected on me. I lost one sale before I caught myself apologizing to people and taking conversations outside. Needless to say, I will never return to that bookstore as a customer or an author to sign.

  10. If a business requires me to wear a mask, I do. Beyond that, I don’t. When I’m out and about, I do practice the anti-social rule whenever excess space allows me. Having said that, I did have a couple of encounters that did leave seriously annoyed about the hypocrisy of enforcing the mask rule. In February, got yelled at quite loudly across the store by a B&N clerk for having my mask lowered enough to be able to talk to my wife on the phone asking her what she might want for her b’day (which is why I was there to begin with). I gave the clerk a dirty look and continued with my unpleasant shopping experience.

    The other was at a local credit union. Their rules, which are plastered all over the lobby and teller windows, is to briefly lower your mask so that you can be properly identified (for the cameras and the tellers). I proceeded to do just that while stating what I wanted to do. I immediately got yelled at by the teller for “talking with my mask down”. This in spite of the fact that I was talking directly into a tall Plexiglas window. This angered me enough to almost walk out and go to another branch.

    Either way, common sense needs to be drilled into people so that they don’t look like dolts when trying to enforce a rule that’s being followed to being with.

  11. Kind of tired of the ‘it’s polite’ and ‘it’s just a mask’ commentary as someone who can’t wear one for medical reasons. The amount of vitriol, cruelty, and dehumanization I’ve experienced because of this inability has convinced me that humanity is one slim line away from barbarity. I’ve had a hellish year filled with people yelling at me about things I can’t change and can’t do to please them.

    If you’re wearing one for me, stop. You’re making things worse for me, and people like me who don’t have your ‘I can handle this, why can’t you’ privilege.

    • Kind of tired of the ‘it’s polite’ and ‘it’s just a mask’ commentary as someone who can’t wear one for medical reasons.

      As someone who won’t wear one because I don’t want to, I agree it’s just a mask but don’t give a hoot about a bogus standard of courtesy. This means I don’t care about the feeling of insecurity I instill in people who don’t know if I have been vaccinated. I respect their decision about getting vaccinated, and don’t care if they accept mine.

  12. I was sure that I read this article after seeing it posted on TPV.

    The Liberals Who Can’t Quit Lockdown

    – Without masks how can people know who the enemy is, so they are panicking.

    Here in Santa Fe:

    Last Tuesday, after the CDC made their announcement and the Governor made her comments, I went to the grocery store and it was bizarre.

    Everyone had masks because the store still requires them.

    Half the people were going the wrong way on each aisle, where the week before people were following the arrows on the floor.

    The other half was nearly hysterical over all of the people going the wrong way.

    The ones going the wrong way made no effort to social distance either, which freaked out the people trying to follow the rules.

    A number of the people going the wrong way had small children in their carts, who clearly could not be vaccinated yet.

    Me being who I am, simply went about moving aisle by aisle, following the arrows, and paying attention to the antics.

    I have a Story folder set up with various articles. I might be able to use this stuff later, but I suspect not. Fiction has to make sense, while Reality rarely does.

    • BTW, I’m not sure I mentioned this in the past, but a year ago, when the Governor ordered us to wear masks, there were none available.

      This was the ridiculous advice from the Surgeon General at the time.

      Surgeon General shows how to make face masks

      – Really? A teeshirt cut up and held on by rubber bands? That’s what you are recommending?

      Faced with the Governor’s order, and the bizarre recommendation by the Surgeon General, I asked:

      – “What would Vin Diesel do?”

      So I pulled out an Arabic headscarf that I had, and wrapped my face with that. When there were finally masks available in the stores I kept using what I had because the masks for sale were flimsy.

      This is the kind of Arabic headscarf I’m talking about.

      How to Tie a Shemagh – Military Style

      There are dozens of ways to tie the scarf, but I just covered my face from nose down, not over my head. Simple on, simple off.

      So visualize: I’m six foot tall, 235 pounds, thinning grey hair tied back in a pony tail. Wearing khaki pants, polo shirt. Wearing the black & white Arabic headscarf over my face.

      Trust me. Everybody kept their distance.

  13. I saw a guy without a mask the other day. He was wearing a t-shirt that said, “I’m vaccinated”.

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