A split over face masks
Last updated 6/28/2020 at 11:21am | View PDF
There is a conundrum in Shafter and Wasco that has the cities split on the issue of wearing masks.
Since the governor mandated the wearing of masks in public buildings and in situations where social distancing would not be possible, masks have been seen dotted throughout the cities. This is the case not only in stores and public buildings, but also on public streets and in parks as well.
In Shafter, several local businesses have posted signs encouraging customers to wear masks, as well as requiring their employees to wear them.
Enforcement of the mandate has been a different matter. Very few of the businesses in Shafter and Wasco are enforcing the wearing of the protective gear. Customers have been turned away at a couple of local businesses in both cities. AM/PM Minimarket in Shafter and Dollar General have both turned customers away who were not wearing masks upon entering the stores. This was the case at two businesses in Wasco as well, with Advance America, a pay-day loan and check-cashing business, and Status Belize IMAGE Salon, with both businesses requiring both employees and customers to wear masks.
The majority of the businesses in both cities are having their employees wear masks but don't make it a requirement for customers to wear them. Luis Fernandez of True Value Hardware said that both of the locations, in Shafter and Wasco, have all employees wearing masks, but they are not enforcing their customers to wear them. "We follow what our corporate office asks us to, but as of yet, we haven't received anything regarding the wearing of masks for customers. We wear them as employees to protect ourselves and the public."
Walmart issued a statement in which they emphasized that "maintaining customer and associate safety remains our top priority." It also goes on to state that they have posted signs reminding customers of the importance of wearing masks. "We are requiring our associates to wear masks." Walmart, along with the True Value locations and the City of Wasco, are not enforcing the wearing of masks by the public.
The City Hall buildings in Shafter are requiring all customers to wear masks inside of the city buildings. They also are doing business in several of the departments by appointment only.
The public seems to be split on the mandates, too.
Over half of the residents observed in Shafter are wearing masks into businesses that require masks, as well as with those who do not require them. But this does not mean that it is done without reservations.
Local photographer Colleen Diltz said, "I don't like wearing the masks. They are hot, I have trouble breathing in them, they fog up my glasses, and I can't see expressions on people's faces."
Diltz did say that she will not buck the system and will comply and wear the mask while it is mandated to do so. This was not the case with local resident Luis Partuda.
"I cannot wear the mask," he said. "I can't breathe in it and I don't like the idea of anyone telling me that I have to do it."
Partuda said that he will not patronize those businesses that require people to wear them. "I don't see how they can enforce it anyway. Unless they make it a law, I don't think that they should be able to make people do something that they don't want to do.
"I mean, this is not like telling people not to speed, or assault somebody. Me not wearing a mask doesn't make me a criminal, and I refuse to be treated like one."
Wasco Tribune Editor Toni DeRosa contributed to this story.