Aledo resident Lori Geehan and her children masked up and took their first outing to Target last week.
While inside, Geehan was concerned that several customers were not adhering to the mask requirement policy, which is posted at the front doors to the Weatherford location. Geehan herself is an asthmatic.
“It was our first outing with the kids to go into a store since all of this started — I have severe asthma so we’ve been staying away from places — but now that people have to wear a mask, we can go out. We went in and of course, we were all masked up to go in as we should be and it’s Target’s policy and they have a big sign up,” Geehan said. “So we went to the toy department and several people had their masks off, they had them around their necks so obviously they had them on when they came in and then just took them off. We just kind of walked to a different aisle. Then, there were several people up front who had no mask and when we were leaving, I saw people coming in with no mask on.”
Starting Aug. 1, Target will require guests to wear masks or face coverings in all locations — except those with underlying medical conditions and young children.
“This builds on the more than 80% of our stores that already require guests to wear face coverings due to local and state regulations,” according to a Target spokesperson. “Given the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the role masks play in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, our store team members also already wear masks when they come to work, which we provide for them.”
The Weatherford Target has already been displaying signs on its entrance that guests are required to wear masks. Other stores such as H-E-B and Walmart, as well as small businesses, are also requiring masks to enter the premise.
According to Target corporate, disposable masks will be provided at store entrances to help guests, and employees will be at store entrances to help remind customers to have a face covering.
But Geehan said if she was an employee, she would be scared to order a customer to put on a mask.
“I’m sure they’re afraid with everything that’s going on and the fact that people can carry guns here. I would be terrified to say something especially if you have no skin in the game — they’re just hourly workers, they’re not going to die for Target,” Geehan said. “I can’t even imagine what the employees have to go through on a daily basis and if the police aren’t backing them up, I’m sure they’re not doing anything.”
As for enforcement of mask requirements, Weatherford Police Chief Lance Arnold said his officers face several challenges in attempting to enforce Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order relating to face coverings.
“To enforce the order, officers would have to observe an offender be within six feet of others not in their household without a covering, then they would need to ascertain that they don’t have an undescribed medical condition or disability without detaining them,” Arnold said. “They will then need to figure out if the offender has already received a written or verbal warning without holding them. Finally, they would need to figure out if the business or property owner wanted to issue a criminal trespass warning, which could only occur if the offender did not voluntarily leave the business when asked by the officer.”
According to Abbott’s order, a face covering is required with inside a business or space open to the public where social distancing is not feasible. The order also states that those with a medical condition or disability are not required to wear a face covering.
“So many people could interpret [the mask order] as only being needed when they could not social distance rather than any time they are in a commercial building. The order does not provide a list of medical conditions, nor does it give any detail as to how something like that could be verified,” Arnold said. “The order commands local law enforcement officials to enforce to rule, but also says an officer may not detain, arrest, or confine an offender in jail. As you can see, this order sounds great, but it is virtually impossible to enforce.”