Local business attacked for mask policy; doctors clarify appropriate use

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – To wear or not to wear? That’s the question a lot of people are asking in response to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendation to wear face coverings in public.

Doctors say masks are scientifically proven to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. But, citing free-will and discomfort as reasons for their decision, people across the country are refusing to wear one.

Brighter Day Foods Market near Savannah’s Forsyth Park made a decision this week to require all staff and customers to wear a mask while inside the store. People who do not have a mask are offered a free disposable one at the door.

In addition to requiring masks, Brighter Day is utilizing an outdoor pick-up window to encourage social distancing. It is also working towards providing an online shopping resource.

“This is reasonable, this is what people feel comfortable with and it was time,” said Co-Owner Kristin Russell of the decision.

On Wednesday, Russell’s team posted the policy online. Hundreds of comments — including many negative ones — appeared beneath the post.

“We kept watching and somebody said right away that it looks like these are all people out of town and it some sort of organized attack,” explained Russell. “That made me feel mystified.”

Even Savannah Mayor Van Johnson is working with the city attorney to find a legal way to require everyone in Savannah to wear face coverings in public. As of Friday, there are no new developments on the effort.

News 3 decided to ask healthcare providers — like Dr. Stephen Thacker, the Associate Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Health — about when and where it is encouraged to wear a mask.

He says it is not about protecting the person wearing the mask. It is about protecting the people around them.

“If you can get 80 percent, hopefully 90 percent of people in the community to wear a mask when they’re out and can’t socially isolate, then you will relly reduce the spread of this virus,” he said.

Dr. Thacker says that means you do not need a mask when you are alone in your car or alone in your home. But you do need one if you are with others and cannot social distance. He says that includes when you exercise.

“This is our solution to restart our communities, to restart our economies, to get back into routines that we viewed as normal before,” he said.

In a small store like Brighter Day, it is hard to social distance. Russell says she will turn people away if she has to, but for the most part, real customers are accepting policy as normal.

“I’m very happy to be part of this neighborhood right now,” said Russell.

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