Mandatory Masking
Credit: kaskip/Shutterstock
Communities across the country are debating the need to cover their faces during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mandatory Masking

Governors and other state and local leaders are making decisions about whether or not to require masks, and how these mask mandates will be enforced. Mask mandates vary widely depending on where you live in the country, and whether your state or community has been deeply affected by the virus. Election Central takes a closer look at the factors that come into play when an area must decide when and how to make people mask up.

The Case For Masks

Medical authorities in the United States are urging Americans to wear a face covering to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Yet people often still refuse to wear them. As the number of nationwide coronavirus cases continues to climb, many state governors have decided to begin issuing mask mandates to require that residents cover their faces in public areas. Some states have declared that there will be fines for people who choose not to comply with the mask laws.

The Case Against Masks

However, even when a state government requires mask wearing that won’t guarantee that everyone will comply. Some people believe that mask wearing should be voluntary, and that the government does not have the right to tell people to wear masks if they don’t want to. For others, it’s an enforcement issue. Some police departments simply don’t have the resources to make sure everyone is wearing a mask and issue tickets to those who don’t comply.

But if police departments struggle to enforce mask laws, enforcement then falls on the shoulders of business owners and employees, who must demand that customers put on a mask or else refuse them service. This is an especially tough spot for business owners to be in right now, when they are trying to recover from the economic shutdown.The last thing business owners want to do is drive away potential customers. Some may choose to look the other way and allow people to enter their establishment without a face covering, in spite of what the state or local laws may be.

What Can Be Done About It?

Public health experts are trying to encourage everyone to put on a mask through education. Some states, such as Maine, are airing public service announcements encouraging residents to wear masks and to not get upset when they are told to do so by business owners and employees. Other states have taken steps to educate the public about the importance of wearing a facial covering.

The ultimate goal of these education campaigns is voluntary compliance–getting everyone to wear a mask because they understand the benefits, not because they are afraid of receiving a ticket or fine if they don’t.

What Do You Think? Should mask-wearing be mandatory in your state? Explain.
Valerie Cumming


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