Waterstones employees not expected to police mask wearing

From The Bookseller:

Waterstones employees will not be expected to intervene or attempt to police mask wearing in stores from 19th July, the retailer has confirmed, after announcing it would “encourage” customers to don face coverings and observe social distancing after restrictions are lifted across England.

On 13th July, Waterstones tweeted it had made the decision because of the “enclosed browsing environment” in stores.

However, the chain’s stance was met with some strong reactions on Twitter. Many praised the store for its measured policy, but some, including former actor and political activist Laurence Fox and Talk Radio’s Julia Hartley Brewer, criticised the move. Brewer said: “I make a point of buying books at my local Waterstones rather than ordering on Amazon because I want bookstores to thrive, but if I go into your store and a member of staff asks me to wear a mask, you will lose my business forever.”

A spokesperson for Waterstones told The Bookseller: “From Monday 19th July, the English government will remove the mandatory wearing of face coverings in public and the legislative requirement to adhere to one-metre social distancing. Whilst we will not enforce mask wearing in our English shops, we respectfully encourage our booksellers and our customers to follow the spirit of government guidance, continuing to observe the same safety measures of wearing face masks in crowded and enclosed spaces, and maintaining the social distancing that have helped to create a safe shopping environment. We also ask our staff to continue employing the three primary control measures (face masks, appropriate social distancing and cleanliness and hand hygiene) that have kept both our staff and our customers secure during the ongoing pandemic.”

Waterstones staff seemed positive about the retailer’s decision. One employee told The Bookseller: “We are glad to see a more sensible approach taken internally and that customers will be encouraged to continue exhibiting the correct behaviours. This will be done through the use of signage with much of our current point-of-sale suite remaining in place for the time being. However there is no expectation that staff intervene or attempt to police this policy themselves, indeed, we are actively discouraged from putting ourselves in a situation that may lead to confrontation.

“Staff are encouraged to put their own safety first, continue to distance from customers and one another, wear a mask where possible and continue with hygiene best practice. With a lack of clear government policy on the issue, staff have no legal backing to enforce any behaviours from our customers and as such mask wearing and distancing will be largely self-policing. Many staff would like to see a stiffening of the wording being used by the government and a U-turn on the current path, with masks and distancing in crowded spaces and public transport remaining a requirement.”

They said that the shift in rhetoric from the government had already seen an increase in the number of people opting not to wear a mask as well as visitors pushing back against the current rules and abusing and challenging staff. “Sadly we expect this trend to continue after the 19th,” they said.

“Some branches have enjoyed a busy past few days. With many customers commenting that they too are concerned about the shift in policy and are looking to get in to our stores and stock up on reading material before going into a self-imposed period of isolation and that they will look to avoid busy/crowded places such as shops and shopping centres until the effects of the changing policy become more apparent.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

As an observer of human behavior, PG is fascinated with the mask/no mask situations that cause a significant number of people to become upset.

A month before Covid appeared anywhere, had one interviewed a representative sample of Americans about a hypothetical pandemic that caused government and health officials to recommend that people in well-defined areas and situations wear a face mask mask as a public as a health safety measure, PG doubts very many interviewees would have had a problem with following those recommendations.

If one then asked interviewees to consider that, after public health officials felt the danger had subsided and informed the public that wearing masks in public areas was no longer necessary for their safety, he doubts that very many of those surveyed would have hypothesized any problem following those recommendations either.

PG doubts that significant numbers of people would have responded that they had serious reservations about following either of those pieces of advice and would not comply.

As reflected in the OP, it appears to PG that at least some residents of the British isles have been behaving in much the same way as some of their American cousins have with respect to masks/no masks health decisions.

In PG’s definitely unscientific observation of human behavior among those with whom he has had interactions during the Covid Episode and news accounts he has read about the behavior of other Americans, he has concluded that there is a great deal of social conflict and argument over the mask issue that he would never have predicted.

For the record, PG and Mrs. PG each were vaccinated at the earliest opportunity and wore masks, followed social-distancing guidelines, etc., when local and regional government authorities advised or ordered that such behavior should be followed when they were in public and observed signs in public and private spaces regarding mask wearing wherever they went outside Casa PG.

After the same government authorities said mask wearing was no longer necessary for people like them, the PG’s quit wearing masks. If a business or proprietor of a public place requested or demanded that masks be worn on its premises, the PG’s complied. PG doesn’t remember becoming upset at being required to put on a mask when he entered a location that was being more cautious than the government authorities said was necessary.

What PG doesn’t view as rational behavior is people becoming upset and abusive toward those who are being more or less cautious than they are with regard their decisions about masks/no masks if public health experts and governments have ceased to mandate masks in public places.

PG has strong opinions about a wide variety of matters, but he doesn’t get upset with someone who holds differing opinions. If he were to ask his friends a series of questions about a variety of subjects and they held different opinions than he did, that wouldn’t bother him or interfere with his friendship with them under virtually any condition PG can imagine.

He doubts that any of his acquaintances hold the opinion that everyone should work hard to run over puppies crossing the street and drive accordingly or routinely insult and attack anyone who is over the age of 30 and under the age of 50, but admits he would probably steer clear of them it they acted that way.

As mentioned here before, PG has worried about the impact of long periods of social isolation imposed on groups like school children or the elderly by efforts to minimize the risk of catching Covid. But, he didn’t think to worry about what would happen to the public interactions between people once the danger was past or mostly past.

Perhaps a genre of books involving Covid horror stories will spring into being and become its own permanent category on Amazon.

11 thoughts on “Waterstones employees not expected to police mask wearing”

  1. PG, the “maskers v. nonmaskers” is primarily the result of most people – particularly in the US – being unwilling to accept restrictions upon their freedom that make no sense.

    Masks were only one part of the “pandemic theater.” And it is/was theater, as many realized from the rank hypocrisy exhibited by those orchestrating it, from the politically powerful to those influential through wealth and/or fame. Including the man touted as the “foremost expert” on the situation. (The most recent example is the crowd of Texas legislators, all maskless and crowded together, on a long chartered flight to DC. Completely legal – yes. Completely hypocritical – (BAD WORD) YES!)

    I myself followed the “masking” crowd, but only to not place the employees of the establishments that I entered between a rock and a hard place. Between the mandates of corporate policy / governmental edict and myself. Having educated myself on the subject, that was the sole utility of the exercise. Since those ended (here in my part of the country), I do not wear a mask under any circumstances. A few weeks ago, the family and I entered an eating establishment that had a sign saying they would “appreciate” their guests wearing masks. I simply told the (somewhat less rebellious) family that I wasn’t there to be “appreciated” – I was there to eat their food. As far as I was concerned, they could absolutely loathe me – and if they kicked me out, I would find the atmosphere more congenial at the fast food franchise across the street.

    • Complete agreement, reinforced by the tendency of some sales clerks in stores who like to lecture that “this is their policy” (mask-wearing), as if that somehow anointed the practice in the absence of legal requirement OR mask-theatre from above issues.

      Any person who stands in front of me righteously and attempts to make me do something by referring to a “policy” that they can neither define nor defend from internal contradiction is pretty much guaranteed to torch me off. (And my entire state of Pennsylvania seems to be infected by an inherited wave of Presbyterian smugness at getting to lecture others.)

      Yes, I feel sorry for the storeowners caught in the middle of much of this. No, I do not feel the least amount of respect for lectures from idiots who think they have both the moral and scientific high ground when they understand neither.

  2. Mask wearing pre-vaccinations did indeed make sense. There were copious studies showing the efficacy of masks in preventing transmission from one person to another and since asymptomatic people were the worst offenders at spreading the virus it made sense.
    I trusted the science then; I trust it now and don’t wear a mask – of course, if I’m feeling sick even from a cold these days I am going to revert to a mask for the duration because I don’t want to infect others.
    As to policy – I’m sure stores have a policy that you can’t come in naked. If you want to go into a store that has such a policy, they can ask you to put on clothes. If you don’t wish to be clothed because of your ‘freedoms’ you can easily shop elsewhere and not make a spectacle of being annoyed at the store with such an onerous policy.

    • I agree. Remember: “No shoes, no shirt, no service”? I had no problem with that nor do I have a problem with: “No mask, no entry.” I’m fully vaccinated and still wear a mask into every store I enter. And if a store has a policy—whatever it may be, if legal—they should enforce it.

      • The grocery store I frequent also has a policy not to allow backpacks into the store, and there is an employee at the entrance enforcing that policy.

    • There were copious studies showing the efficacy of masks in preventing transmission from one person to another and since asymptomatic people were the worst offenders at spreading the virus it made sense.

      I think there were copious claims that there were copious studies.

      I heard a common justification again on TV last night. Vaccinated people should wear a mask so the unvaccinated people didn’t feel bad about wearing a mask to protect themselves.

      I remember David Hogg, the anti-gun kid from the Florida school targeted by a mass shooter. He announced that he would wear a mask so nobody mistook him for a conservative.

  3. Good points, all.

    I relished the photo of the Governor of California sitting in an extremely expensive restaurant without a mask when (I believe) he had ordered restaurants in the state closed.

    I don’t think its a good idea for people with no exotic medical problems to refuse to be vaccinated for reasons they discovered on the internet, but do recognize their right to make the decision about what they put into their bodies.

    I think all the disruption and stress of this miserable year or so have made more than a few people a little bit Covid-crazy. I’m hoping most of them will return to normal soon.

  4. Explaining the Pandemic to my Past Self – 1 Year Later
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqlPsAAsZss

    I agree with Julie, that irreparable damage has been done. It will take me years to recover, but I’m not complaining because so many people have been hit worse.

    When the Pandemic started, people cranked their Imagination up to 11. They were hijacked by their Imaginary fears. They are trapped until they can truly relax, and let their Imaginary fears evaporate. Yet, when I try to tell people that, and that they should use their relaxation techniques NOW, that cranks them up even worse.

    – At this point Logic and Reason are incapable of helping.

    So I had to step back and let events happen. No matter how painful it was to watch people hurting themselves.

    There are at least six different attacks going on, and no one is listening. They have been conditioned to respond a certain way, no matter what. I’m well aware of “the madness of the crowds”, but have never seen everyone subjected to so many different attacks at once, and for such a sustained length of time.

    Think of the two classic Star Trek episodes:

    Star Trek: The Return of the Archons
    – “Are you of the Body”

    Star Trek: Specter of the Gun

    Star Trek – Shootout at the OK Corral
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEm-6lYMgCI

    The first is how everyone has been conditioned to react, they are “of the Body” and will be triggered quite easily. Any attempt to help triggers paranoia and then violence.

    The second shows that it took Spock using the Vulcan Mind meld to convince them that the “threat” was not real.

    I do not know how to reach people. This is beyond my ability to kibitz. Sadly I am going to have to simply watch as society goes to hell.

    What I’m doing for myself is watch the YouTube lecture series by John Verveake on cognitive science. Each lecture is an hour long and there may be at least 50 of them. I’m at episode 11 and they have already explained so much of what is happening and gives me the tools to put events into perspective so that I can “relax”.

    BTW, Despite knowing what’s going on, at least two different attacks routinely get past my shields. I simply have to take the hit, then “relax”.

    Here is an example:

    How dinosaurs REALLY went extinct
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnxMhFoRLAs

    That was a definite hit.

  5. In February 2020, if you walked into a bank wearing a mask, security responded, the panic alarm was pressed, and lots of men with big guns responded. (Sorry, ladies, or maybe not sorry — there’s a lot of sexism in the “security” and “policing” segments, as if a 9mm round or Taser discharge cares about the gender/identification of the person pulling the trigger.)

    In February 2021, if you walked into a bank not wearing a mask, security responded, the panic alarm was pressed, and you might be arrested and charged with trespassing. In the heart of Texas. (Really happened — twice.)

    Just thinking out loud, one wonders how much surveillance cameras are going to be thrown off…

    • “…one wonders how much surveillance cameras are going to be thrown off…

      The Chinese have already worked that out. I bet.

  6. Personally, I have no problem wearing a mask (no brainer since I’m not vaxxed by choice, yet) nor a problem following whatever rules a business chooses to implement (in CT it’s now optional to wear a mask, especially if you got vaxxed, and they’re pursuing a “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” in regards to the non mask wearing). I did get strongly reprimanded by a B&N employee when I had my mask partially down in order to speak to my wife on the phone. Was taken aback by how forceful the admonishment was, but it is what it is.

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