Cape Town officials defend companies’ right to demand masks and vaccination cards
Cape Cod is on its way back to pre-pandemic standards from Saturday, but local officials are asking visitors to bring masks and vaccination cards, as well as vests, for what promises to be a weekend busy but rainy holiday.
Even with the state lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, businesses have the right to ask customers to obey rules that put owners and employees at ease, said Senator Julian Cyr, D-Truro .
“It’s a prerogative of local businesses,” Cyr said during a briefing Thursday morning by the Cape Cod COVID-19 Response Task Force.
Asking customers to wear masks is tantamount to saying, “No shirt, no shoes, no service,” Cyr said.
“Please respect this decision,” he said. “Always have a mask ready for the foreseeable future. We are not in 2019 at the moment. “
Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross said business owners dreaded the idea of upsetting customers at a time when they were trying to recoup losses accumulated during the pandemic.
The task force is trying to help by developing social media posts and posters to display for businesses that educate customers about an establishment’s right to request masking, Northcross said.
The posters will carry the task force’s logo to relieve some of the pressure on business, she said.
The people of Cape Town have a high vaccination rate, but they welcome visitors from all over the world.
“For now, as we get down to it, I think (hide) is a very reasonable request,” Northcross said.
Crowded establishments such as bars and dance halls may also require customers to show a vaccination card, Cyr said.
“Walking into a nightclub is different from entering a retail store. There are a lot of people on the dance floor. It’s different.”
Those attending the popular tea dances at the Boatslip Resort & Beach Club in Provincetown will be required to show proof of vaccination starting June 3, said Kevin Walsh, a Boatslip employee.
Customers who have a tea dance season pass will only need to show proof of vaccination once, Walsh said.
Being asked to show vaccination cards does not violate people’s privacy because the cards only contain their names and dates of vaccination, Northcross said.
She said a nurse told her to take a picture of her card and keep it on her cell phone.
Masks are still mandatory on public transport, including ferries, the Cape Flyer, taxis, carpools, and healthcare facilities.
Cape Town officials expect a busy summer with returning tourists and popular events such as the Barnstable County Fair, Cape Cod Baseball League games, the Falmouth Road Race, fairs and concerts.
Some practices developed during the pandemic have proven to be popular and will continue, such as increasing al fresco dining, drive-thru movies and curbside pickup, Cyr said.
“The demand for leisure travel is unprecedented,” he said.
“We are looking forward to a very busy Memorial Day weekend,” said Northcross, who called the last Memorial Day a “lost weekend.”
Cape Town officials have urged visitors and residents to exercise patience at local restaurants and retail stores, many of which are currently understaffed.
The federal authorities’ release of 22,000 guest visas for H-2B workers is a step in the right direction, but involves an expensive qualification process in order to secure employees, most likely through a lottery, Northcross said.
She said Cape Town could likely accommodate an additional 1,000 H-2B workers to meet demand, although any additional guest workers would help.
According to federal officials, 16,000 H-2B visas will be available to returning workers who held guest worker status in fiscal 2018, 2019 or 2020. The remaining 6,000 H-2B visas are reserved for workers in El Salvador, from Guatemala and Honduras.
Contact Cynthia McCormick at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @Cmccormickcct.