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Retailer Conversation Starter: How Are You Balancing Mask-Vaccination Rules? May 23, 2021 (1 comment)


Portland, OR—In Oregon, the new mask guidance issued by the Oregon Health Authority attempted to clarify rules around masks as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have relaxed COVID-19 protections. 

At Betsy & Iya, a jewelry store in Northwest Portland, OR, that attempt feels clear as mud.

Unfortunately, as this report on Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) has found, it’s creating more problems than it’s solving for some business owners. Three business owners, one being Betsy and Iya co-owner Will Cervarich (image), told OPB’s Think Out Loud show that it puts them in a no-win situation—either angering customers or causing worry among staff. 

Betsy & Iya was founded in 2008. The idea was launched in a coffeeshop with a notebook, a bright red pencil, and nothing to lose, says Betsy, chief designer and founder.  Among scribbles and coffee stains, the words “jewelry making” appeared in that notebook. Today she and Will have a staff of 11 humans and two dogs. The business is a gallery featuring handcrafted fine and fashion jewelry, bags and accessories, clothing, home goods, and more.

With a robust website, the store has weathered the pandemic and was looking forward to relaxed restrictions. Until, that is, they came with a hefty side of confusion. Oregon is one state that does expect businesses to check vaccination status of customers who will be indoors without masks on, but many states are not requiring maskless people to provide proof of vaccination, just to be on their honor. And even with the law on his side, jeweler Cervarich doesn’t want to be the vaccine police.

From the article:

“I think like many business owners, I don’t want my staff to be the mask or vaccine police, but I also don’t want our customers to feel uncomfortable,” said Will Cervarich, Betsy and Iya co-owner.

For now, Cervarich said he’s taking a wait-and-see approach.

“So if an unmasked customer came in the store, we’d smile underneath our own masks and welcome them in and serve them, and keep an eye on what effect that person has on other customers who are wearing masks,” Cervarich said.

But he did add that if he saw other customers were uncomfortable because an unmasked customer hadn’t been asked to prove they were vaccinated, he’d have to rethink the policy and probably ask that customer to produce proof, mask up, or shop online.

Read the article and listen to the broadcast here. And join the conversation in the comments below: what are you doing in your store around masks and vaccine card checks?

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Comments (1):

No mask police in my store. Live your LIFE and worry about yourself. Quite honestly if you’re not comfortable out then YOU should shop online, not the unmasked client.

By John Gretkowski on May 31st, 2021 at 4:02am

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