Small businesses in Charlotte County encourage masks but have trouble enforcing policy

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

Many small businesses are following the larger chains as they begin to require masks for shopping and visiting.

“Everyone has to have a mask on,” said Sherrie Moody, Executive Director of the Charlotte Players Theater.

No matter the performance, when the seats are filling up at the theater, masks must be worn because Moody believes it’s their job to protect their patrons. “It’s our responsibility as a theater to do everything we possibly can for our patrons,” Moody added.

There is a similar trend across Charlotte County as businesses begin to require masks for entry, even without a county-wide ordinance in effect. Signs like the one on the door of Security Alarm Corporations that suggest customers should wear face coverings have been popping up all over.

Businesses like Security Alarm Corporations, whose headquarters are on Toledo Blade Boulevard, are even generous enough to leave a stash of masks in the lobby for customers that don’t have their own.

“We keep masks here in the lobby for any customers that come in who may need a mask,” said Erick Toth, Vice President of Security Alarm Corporation.

Other businesses are more strict and straightforward about their mask policy. At Port Charlotte’s National Cremation Society, all customers must wear masks.

“We’re doing it not even so much for our safety, but for yours as well,” said Gloria Yanni, Service Manager at the National Cremation Society.

The problem with signs and suggestions is that they can be avoided. Many businesses have their guidelines but the issues come with enforcing those guidelines.

“We’re not mandating. We’re not refusing service for anybody who comes in without it,” said Yanni. So, “maybe we have the wrong wording on the sign.”

Toth said, “We don’t have a policy or an enforcement policy. We will probably restrict their entry to the lobby area.”

But for Moody and her theater, it’s mask on or no entry, and it’s enforced.

“That is certainly their choice to be here, and if they want to stay, then they have to conform to what our policy is at this time,” Moody said.

Because according to Sherrie Moody it’s part of her job to protect customers and workers. “That’s our job to provide the safest environment that we can,” she said.

Some in the community may think that private businesses are not allowed to refuse service for any reason. But as long as they are not based upon race, color, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or national origin or disability, they can turn away customers.

If customers refuse to wear a mask it is up to the owners of the business how to proceed but it could result in law enforcement being called.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.