More Bay Area businesses are requiring customers to wear masks

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TAMPA (WFLA) – As Florida begins to reopen more businesses in its “full phase one,” many of them are requiring not just employees but customers to wear masks.

Rebekah Norrell owns Level Salon and Spa in the Hyde Park Village of South Tampa and Salon Norrell in Carrollwood. She’s been requiring clients who visit her salon to wear a mask since Gov. Ron DeSantis reopened hair and nail salons last week.

“I feel like my main responsibility owning a salon is not only to make Tampa look beautiful but feel safe,” Norrell said. “Our top priority is keeping our guests safe, keeping our employees safe, and providing an environment that’s safe for even the most vulnerable.”

Almost all of her clients have been fine with the new policy, including Michelle Alvstad, whose two daughters are both nurses.

“You have to think of everybody else,” said Alvstad. “It’s not you necessarily, but it could be somebody that you come into contact with.”

Norrell hopes everyone is comfortable with the new policy–even if the masks aren’t.

“We have done over a thousand heads of hair and we’ve had about two guest complaints,” said Norrell. “I think most people are willing to understand that it is a precautionary measure that we’re taking.”

That may be true at Norrell’s salons, but it hasn’t been true nationwide. Several violent incidents have resulted from mandatory face mask policies, including a viral video of a Costco employee calmly kicking a customer out for refusing to wear one, a man berating employees at a Miami Beach Publix, and a Walmart security guard body-slamming a woman in Alabama.

Worst of all, a security guard was shot and killed at a Family Dollar in Michigan for trying to enforce the store’s mandatory mask policy.

Tampa Bay attorney Mike Winer said businesses have the legal right to require you to wear a mask, but they obviously suffer the consequences if customers don’t like a certain policy.

“Actually, it’s up to each individual business owner to decide what safety practices and protocols they want to put into play, as long as they’re not applied in an illegal or discriminatory fashion,” Winer said.

After waiting two months, nothing could keep Alvstad from a haircut and color–especially not wearing a mask.

“This is more important,” she said with a laugh.

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