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Mandatory Masks Good for Business, as Well as Public Health

Study indicates mandatory masks would make travelers feel safer

Let’s talk about face coverings for a moment. Starting tonight at 6 p.m., face coverings will be required by all in the 12 counties throughout Ohio showing the highest indicators of virus spread. Not complying with this regulation is a misdemeanor.

Even if your county is not mandating face coverings for your guests (remember, face coverings are mandatory for employees in Ohio), many attractions, hotels, retailers are requiring masks for entry. We are hearing of more and more every day making this a requirement.

More than 70% of potential visitors say mandatory face coverings will make them feel safer.

Colleen Dillen/Know Your Bone research team has been tracking consumer behavior for months, looking at what will make travelers comfortable to visit museums, botanical gardens, aquariums, nature areas, etc. When asked June 29 what would make them feel safe and comfortable going to a museum, aquarium, theatre, zoo or concert again, most survey respondents said availability of a coronavirus vaccine (74%). This hasn’t changed as the top indicator of safety.  

What’s really interesting is that mandatory face coverings has risen from 54% of respondents to more than 70% in the last two weeks, surpassing “seeing others visit” as the second most popular reason. After reviewing this research, as well as other questions that looked at intensity of mask-wearing as essential from both sides of the issue, the authors declared “research suggests that not requiring masks will have a greater negative impact on attendance than requiring them for a vast majority of organizations.”

Other shifts in opinions during this timeframe are as follows:

  1. Governments lifting restrictions doesn’t make people feel safe. In fact, the percentage of those saying “lifting of restrictions by the government” will make them feel safer plummeted over the last few weeks indicating lack of trust that some of these decisions are done with public safety in mind.
  2. Being outdoors has become even more important.
  3. Seeing others visit remain a top factor. They want to see friends, family members and others visiting a community or attraction before they feel comfortable doing so.  

What can you do if your guests refuse to don a facial covering?

That’s the million-dollar question these days. We’ve put together some ideas we’ve heard, but this is obviously a new issue, and we all need to learn from each other. If you have some ideas or thoughts, please post them below.

  • First of all, don’t surprise your customers with this request. Make sure you indicate that face coverings are required on your website, voicemail, and however else you communicate with visitors.
  • Post signage at your entry, but be consistent with your brand. Make it prominent, but friendly. Indicate concern for your employees, your customers and the economy. “We care about our staff. We care about our community. We care about you. Wearing of masks is required in our showroom.”
  • Provide disposable masks for those who do not have one. Some businesses are providing these for free; others are charging a nominal fee.
  • Provide incentives for those wearing face coverings; maybe it’s a discount or a special item.
  • Understand your guests and what they expect from your business. If you are a visitors center and it’s information that’s needed, are there alternatives to coming indoors? Could you post your telephone number outside your door for folks who have questions and are either 1. Not comfortable coming indoors or 2. Not going to comply with the masks.    
  • Consider offering other purchasing options (if applicable to the business) for customers who do not have a mask, whether they refuse to wear one or “cannot” wear one. For example, a sign on your business's door could say “In order to protect our employees and guests, we are requiring a mask in our business. If you are unable to wear a mask for any reason, please order on our website or call this number for curbside pickup.” 
  • Have a policy in place as to what will happen if people do not comply – there will be those who absolutely will not.
  • There will be those who will say they are excluded for medical reasons; how will you accommodate them?
  • Train your staff on what to do if someone doesn’t comply, as well as how to handle difficult situations.
  • Make sure your front-facing employees are wearing face coverings. This means that if you have an employee who isn’t able to wear a mask for medical reasons, do not put that person in a front-facing position where he or she will be asking others to do what is not being modeled.

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