COVID-19

What role should employees play in enforcing social distancing rules?

Meghan McCarty Carino May 15, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Should restaurant and retail employees be in charge of enforcing the law? Joe Raedle/Getty Images
COVID-19

What role should employees play in enforcing social distancing rules?

Meghan McCarty Carino May 15, 2020
Should restaurant and retail employees be in charge of enforcing the law? Joe Raedle/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

More states are easing some lockdown restrictions, but that easing comes with a lot of questions for businesses that are opening back up.

First, The Wall Street Journal, and then The New York Times, got a hold of the plan at McDonald’s, where the bathrooms will be cleaned every half hour and there are company talking points to be used by employees to deal with customers who break the rules.

That is going to be thorny at lots of businesses.

Los Angeles requires residents to wear masks outside their homes, including when they shop at stores. But Dionna Richardson, a cashier at Ralphs, sees customers who don’t wear them.

“And I’ll say, ‘Sir, you know, next time you come in’ — or, ‘Ma’am, I need you to wear a face mask,’ and then they cuss me out,” Richardson said. “‘I’ll do what I want. Don’t ever tell me what to do again.'”

She’s heard about violent incidents erupting in other stores. Earlier this week, a security guard at an LA Target suffered a broken arm after employees confronted two men about allegedly not wearing face masks.

“It shouldn’t be the role of a retail employee to enforce the law,” said Jason Brewer, with the Retail Industry Leaders Association. He says stores should rely on signs and PA announcements to inform the public of the rules.

But those rules have become symbols of differing world views, says Thomas Pepinsky at Cornell University.

“The mask is a visible reminder of the existence of a crisis,” Pepinsky said.

And that means retail employees may find that a request to wear a mask puts them in a tough spot.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

With a slow vaccine rollout so far, how has the government changed its approach?

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced changes to how the federal government is distributing vaccine doses. The CDC has expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone 65 and older, along with people with conditions that might raise their risks of complications from COVID-19. The new approach also looks to reward those states that are the most efficient by giving them more doses, but critics say that won’t address underlying problems some states are having with vaccine rollout.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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