FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Due to state legislation, local counties, cities, and towns cannot put in place mask mandates of their own.
Private businesses, on the other hand, can require masks where they see fit. However, one small business tells us it’s been backfiring on their end.
The Dickson Street Bookshop said there had been several situations where it’s had to close because of an employee testing positive for COVID-19. This, in addition to the store being a small setting with tight walking spaces, is why store manager Suedee Hall-Elkins said what makes them feel comfortable is requiring masks inside the shop.
But this policy has been going anything but well. Hall-Elkins said enforcing the policy is a daily struggle with book clerks being verbally assaulted; it has caused an overall loss in business and for people to leave hateful public reviews online that have nothing to do with the product or customer service.
Hall-Elkins said what is most frustrating is it’s a battle they’re fighting on their own.
“It’s incredibly frustrating because if there were just a mask mandate, then it wouldn’t be on us, and people wouldn’t come in and attack us personally,” said Hall-Elkins. “You know it would just be this is how it is right now because we are trying to do the right thing to protect everyone.”
Senator Bob Ballinger said while he completely supports individual businesses being able to require their own mask mandate, this public backlash is exactly the reason he believes the state shouldn’t be requiring masks or taking the heat for them.