Masking The Question – Part 2

This week, TraveLaw Online’s Doug Crozier and Tim Law of Heifetz, Crozier, Law respond to another question about mask wearing and how to walk-in customers who refuse to wear one.

Q: I can deal with staff who may be hesitant to wear a mask in the office, but it’s the walk-in customers who worry me if they refuse to wear one. Suggestions?

A: Last week, we offered six suggestions — — and ended by saying “If all else fails, know clearly what to do next; that’ll be the subject of next week’s TraveLaw Online Q & A.”

In the event that the potential customer still refuses to don a mask, you’ll have to rely on work you’ve already done, when you drafted a clearly-worded COVID-19 Policy and when you trained your staff.

The employee at the door who first engaged the customer will have informed him of the policy, using her own words. If that doesn’t work, she ought to be able to pick up from her desk two copies of the written policy, hand one to him, and read the exact wording from the copy she has in her hands. She ought then to continue, by reading the escalation process that will be triggered if the refusal continues; for example, “Staff are obliged immediately to inform the Office Manager/Owner if a customer refuses to wear a mask upon entering the office.”

That person ought to be the most senior available person in the agency’s chain of command, and able to use a calm and confident voice to suggest that the conversation continue in a private location outside the office. There, the policy and the reasons for it can be explained again, reasons for the refusal invited, and questions answered. If there is a local Bylaw (see #1 of the prior Q & A), it ought to be referred to and quoted. Options (see #5 of the prior Q & A) can be offered. In all of this, it ought to be made clear that entering the office without a mask is not an option.

In the refusal continues despite this rational conversation, it’ll be time to call building security or local authorities, for mask-less entry would constitute a trespass on the agency’s space. Physical contact must be avoided at all costs. Ditto loud voices and anything that could be seen as evidence of anger.

Once the situation is resolved, one way or the other, the Manager/Owner and the staff member who first engaged the customer ought to write down (separately, and without consultation with each other) an objective and unemotional summary of events. Likewise, any other staffer who may have heard/watched what happened. Those reports ought to be dated and kept in a secure place, in case the story doesn’t end at that point.

If you have a question, you can contact Crozier or Law at [email protected] or connect with Bob Mowat at Canadian Travel Press/Baxter Media at [email protected].

Heifetz, Crozier, Law is a Toronto law firm that has for years represented all aspects of the Canadian travel industry. The lawyers at HCL also maintain a non-travel practice, covering litigation, real estate, Wills, corporate/commercial matters, etc. To contact HCL, e-mail [email protected].