New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams has made an unusual request. Worried about the safety of the city’s deli clerks and bodegas workers, Adams wants members of the public to lower their face masks in order to reassure store workers they are not criminals.
“We are putting out a clear call to all of our shops, do not allow people to enter the store without taking off their face mask,” Adams said.
“Once they’re inside, they can continue to wear it if they so desire to do so,” Adams said of the policy.
The guidance quickly caused a stir in New York City. The terrible toll from the early Covid pandemic prompted a mask mandate. At many stores, doors, and windows remain plastered with reminders to wear face coverings.
New York loves its bodegas. It’s a hyper-localized corner store that includes both convenience and community. They stayed open through the worst of the pandemic, providing neighborhoods with a much-needed sense of normalcy, provided that shoppers wore their masks.
Now customers wearing face covering will be told they cannot enter without first lowering it.
Adams is a former cop with a tough-on-crime reputation. He said that potential thieves had exploited the ubiquity of face coverings as a way to hide their identity.
Though the mayor’s comments do not amount to a new rule, disability rights advocates were quick to point out that an official policy banning face coverings would violate the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
But the United Bodegas of America, a group that represents the well-being of over 15,000 shop owners, backed Adams’ comments.
There are issues of health ramifications and legality.
The city’s health agency currently states that “we strongly recommend everyone to wear masks in all indoor public settings” to reduce the spread of viruses that cause Covid and other illnesses.