Stewart's Shops Implements 'No Mask, No Service' Policy
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Customers at Stewart's Shops locations need to bring their masks.
The convenience store retailer is enforcing a "No Mask, No Service" policy following the New York State Department of Health's Emergency Regulation, which went into effect on July 9.
The department's rule is a follow-up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive orders mandating masks for all businesses, their employees and customers over the age of 2.
The state Department of Health has threatened to levy fines against retailers that don't enforce the state's mask requirements, Stewart's Shops President Gary Dake told The Daily Gazette.
Last week the department informed retailers they could face a potential $2,000 fine per day per store if they do not enforce the mask mandate.
"My people are not law enforcement. If it is a regulation between the man in the street and the state, it is not my job to enforce it," Dake told the news outlet. "Quite frankly, I've told my partners to go ahead and quote-unquote, 'Blame the state,' because it is not a Stewart's rule, we are now enforcing a state rule."
Not all customers are happy about the new store policy.
"My big concern going into it is that there are a lot of very angry customers out there about masks, now we're hearing from them, where before we were hearing from the people who were upset that we weren't enforcing it," Dake said.
Now signs on its c-store doors inform customers "No Mask, No Service" by order of state health officials, who are trying to prevent spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
Prior to the policy, Stewart's Shops had faced some criticism for not enforcing the mask mandate. Company officials said their goal wasn't to enforce, but to "educate," according to the report.
"Every day you see stories about violence, people being a little irrational, and I don't want to put my partners at risk," Dake said. "We're at the point now where it has become a regulatory burden on me, that I am required to enforce, subject to a fine, so I'm happy to comply."
Saratoga Springs-based Stewart's Shops operates more than 335 stores across New York and southern Vermont.