DALLAS — It's unlikely the employees at a 7-Eleven in Fort Worth or a Fiesta grocery store in Dallas or an eyeglass outlet in Cedar Hill expected to be on the front lines of enforcing local health ordinances during a global pandemic.
But they’re “kind of like the mask police,” said Texas Retailers Association spokesman Gary Huddleston.
In several Texas counties, local ordinances are now requiring businesses to enact and enforce a policy requiring their customers to wear masks inside an establishment.
Because businesses bear the burden of enforcement, their employees are now acting as parents when customers begin acting like kids.
In Cedar Hill, a customer who was told he had to wear a mask pushed a worker.
In the Fiesta in Dallas, a woman threw groceries out of her cart when asked to put on her mask.
Video posted to Facebook shows a woman at a 7-Eleven cussing at a cashier when told she had to purchase a mask in order to make other purchases.
The woman who recorded the video said it happened in Fort Worth. She gave WFAA permission to share the video but did not want her name used.
An employee who answered the phone at the 7-Eleven said workers were not legally allowed to discuss anything.
Stores can be fined if they allow customers to violate their policies, but there has been a loud revolt over the policies themselves, with many claiming being forced to wear a mask violates their freedom.
Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R–Brazoria County, said people who refuse to wear masks “infuriate” him.
“The reality of it is - the population we’re trying to reach on the masks don’t really want to be told what to do, which is bizarre because they’re also the same population who say they want the economy 100 percent open and they want freedom and liberty,” he said on WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics.
“Not wearing a mask is infringing on my freedom and my liberty. Not wearing a mask is keeping businesses from being fully open,” he said.
Police reports were filed in the case in Cedar Hill and in Dallas, but Fort Worth police did not respond to an inquiry asking if the department had been called about the incident at the 7-Eleven.
Huddleston asked that customers try to remain patient and remember that the clerks didn’t make the rules.
“Our retail business is not in the business of denying service to anyone – that’s not what we’re used to doing,” he said. “It’s not the fault of the store that we have this COVID situation.”