According to the reviews on PissedConsumer.com, the mask-wearing policy brings controversial opinions. There are ones who demand to restrict access to public places for consumers without masks, and there are those standing against the mask policy due to various reasons, like health and religion.
In one of the Sprouts Farmers Market reviews, a customer shares her story of how she couldn’t shop without a mask. As said by the reviewer, she has a “medical condition” that doesn’t allow her to wear a mask, and even though she was “practicing a social distancing”, the police “threatened to arrest” her.
As seen from reviews, this isn’t the rare case. There’s another video review from a Trader Joe's customer who reports that a customer service representative has engaged him in“a debate on the viability of masks”. The reviewer requested “equal treatment” to senior citizens and a special hour to shop since “there is no law requiring masks in any store”.
Is wearing a mask a restriction or a recommendation? Can stores and businesses serving the public enforce their health policies? Do consumers have the right to refuse masks?
We at PissedConsumer.com decided to dig into the topic and help consumers find answers to their top mask-wearing FAQs. Thus, we’ve consulted Peggy Hall, a founder of The Healthy American and activist who educates people on their civil rights. Having decent expertise in all legal aspects concerning the mask-wearing policy, she provides practical solutions and consults businesses, schools, employees, and consumers on how to defend their rights.
In this video interview, Peggy explains the mask policy forced in stores, six feet apart mandate, and what people can do if they choose to be mask-free.
- What is The Healthy American
- Mask mandate repeal in Orange County
- Addressing mask discrimination
- Legal aspects of mask policy
- Cans and cants for businesses
- Six feet apart mandate
- The mask-free hours
- A final note
1. Introduction: The Mask Policy and The Law
Peggy Hall: No emergency suspends the law. These laws exist exactly for this time, to protect people when others want to violate them. No store may make a policy that violates law. That would be like saying, "Walmart can allow you to pick someone's pocket or steal their wallet when you're in their store because that's their store policy."
No store may make, even a private business, may not make any law that violates civil law. That's why those civil laws exist. And my goal is to educate people on the law, how to understand it, and how to defend it.
Mike: Hi, PissedConsumer crowd. Thank you for supporting our organization. Because we are trying to help consumers to find a common language with a corporation.
Today I'm bringing to you Peggy Hall who is an activist and advocate for consumer rights. She has undertaken a role in Orange County, California, and they successfully won the mandate to restrict the use of masks.
It's no longer a restriction in Orange County. Now it's more of a recommendation to use masks in a shopping arena, in the retail establishment. So I'm bringing today Peggy Hall and I’m having an honest and frank conversation with her about her cause and what she's fighting for, and how it affects consumers today in light of the corona pandemic that is going on around the country.
2. What Is The Healthy American
Mike: So the Healthy American, when did the website start and what is the purpose behind it? What are you trying to achieve?
Peggy: It's an education website to inform people to take action to defend their freedom. So my goal is to mobilize and to activate, that's what an activist is, to activate others to take action. Because when people don't take action, they become very depressed and they feel very frustrated that they can't do anything.
Many people will complain, and carry signs, and argue on Facebook, which in my view is not very productive. So in my view, taking action is something that has, regardless of the result of the action, the taking of the action is very empowering. People become educated, they can educate others, and they can feel that they are engaged in society rather than just sitting back.
3. Mask Mandate Repeal in Orange County
Mike: What were you able to achieve in Orange County?
Peggy: In Orange County, we informed people of the County meetings that they could attend peacefully and address the County board. And at these meetings, they are able to give their views and their opinions. And that's what we had.
We had people attending the meetings. We had doctors, and parents, and children, and teachers, and just regular citizens give their views, which were solicited by the County board of supervisors. And when we were able to show that there was no legal authority to require individuals to wear a mask, to enforce a public health behavior, then they realized that that was true.
And so they reissued the statement saying that masks are not mandated, they're not required, but that they are recommended. And that was because of educating and informing people of that. So, yeah, that was a success. The people's voices were heard and the information was delivered and received.
4. Taking Steps to Address Mask Discrimination
Mike: So what's your goal as far as spreading the message on this? Bringing this activism all across the country, how are you moving towards that direction? I believe that's your intent, to spread more of the same message and have similar results in other counties? How are you doing it, where are you going with it?
Peggy: Yes. So we have in our organization, which is all-volunteer, we have volunteer leaders in different areas. So people now are learning what we did in Orange County, and they are learning about their own board of supervisors in different counties and different states. And they are writing to their elected officials and they're going ... So it's really on a local level, Mike, I call it local and vocal.
So you get to know who your representatives are. You go to the meetings, you interact with them. And it's actually a campaign of asking questions. Asking questions such as, "How long can this emergency last? Where is the evidence that supports this? Where's the legal authority that allows that?" And then you develop a relationship with individuals. So that's one aspect.
And then nationally, we are also educating ... We are educating all of the major retailers as to the law and that ... On three points. And so we're having different campaigns. This week we are focusing on Sprouts. And I am actually going to create a video for the CEO of Sprouts, where I would like them to ... It's asking questions.
I would like them to explain to me why on their website it says they will not discriminate against a person for religious beliefs or medical conditions, but then in action, they discriminate. And I just want them to explain that.
And so that's going to be our campaign. Explain that, what are you going to do? How are you going to address the discrimination? Will you allow for separate hours for those who aren't wearing a mask so that they're not harassed, and threatened, and oppressed.
So we are going ... The campaign is going to focus on one major retailer at a time. Now we already had word that Walmart and CVS and Walgreens, they already now have backed down within the last couple of days. I think it was on Saturday, Friday or Saturday.
They issued an announcement saying they will no longer pressure people who are not wearing masks. So that's a victory. Now, I can't say that my campaign was the exact reason, but I know that it was part of it because of raising awareness.
Many, many people do not realize that they are not required to wear a mask, that these orders are not laws. And so it's all back to ... And people can do what they like. Those who are comfortable, of course, by all means. That's what I'm in favor of, that's what the organization stands for is freedom. Free to choose. You choose, I choose, they choose. We all choose but don't choose for me. Which is what our civil laws are based on.
So it's really going retailer by the retailer to educate them and to ask them to explain their hypocrisy. And if not, they should change what's on the website. Cause if their website says they don't discriminate and they treat everyone with courtesy and friendliness, then they should treat everyone with courtesy and friendliness, or just change the website.
Don't say that you have ethics and non-discrimination. You should say, "We do discriminate. Our policy is to discriminate." Then they're not going to be a hypocrite any longer. So that's where I'm going. I want them to actually announce it. I want it to be in a press release or a video release. And I want them to state, "Yes, we discriminate." Or, "Oops, we made a mistake and we'll let you in after all."
5. The “Healthy Outlook” on Legal Aspects
Mike: Masks will be over in the future, I hope. What are you going to do next, after the masks? What are your passions?
Peggy: You know what, Mike, it's actually not about ... Yes, the mask is one of the issues, but it is about educating people as to how our government works. Because what I realized is that people didn't know.
They thought that a governor could make a law, which the governor can't. They thought that the president could just say something and end-all of this. That's not what a president does at all.
So the organization is all about education. And prior to this, I mean, I've been a business consultant for 30 years. So I've had other businesses that I've done business consulting, and that will continue, or I will continue to consult with businesses. There will be changes. There will be changes to how businesses run. I'm offering businesses ... I'm offering educational forums for small businesses.
So, people that have a hair salon, a hardware store, a restaurant, a jewelry store, they will be able to come to, in person, to a business forum and they can listen to lawyers, and law enforcement, and me, and others to educate them on how to run their business legally in these times. So that's a big part of what I do.
I also consult with schools. So I am ... I've been the Director of Teacher Education for many years at the University of California. I have a 30-year history in higher education. So they hire me to talk to their board of education, to speak legally, I'm not a scientist, I don't speak about the medical aspect of this whatsoever.
That's not my issue. I don't speak about the virus, I don't speak about the health aspect, I speak solely about the legal aspect. Is this legal what they're doing, or is it not? And so I want to help everybody understand how the government works, and if you want to fix something in the government, how do you do it?
So that's why it's called The Healthy American. It's a healthy outlook. We are not sending death threats. We do not protest on people. Some people emailed me and said, "Oh, we should all go to the Sprouts-" No, I don't believe in that at all. Not at all. I do not protest. I do not hold the signs. No.
It's education, empowerment, get involved in your community, be engaged, right? You want to see change, don't complain about it. I want you to do something about it. So we will see how that expands, because I care about people understanding the law, what they're able to do, and what their remedies are.
6. What a Business Owner Can and Can’t Do When Requiring Masks
Mike: There is a small store and the owner strongly believes in masks. What shall he, and he believes ... It's all about belief, right? It's not proven whether masks help or they don't help. Right? It's not proven.
But there is a small business owner who believes in the mask, and he doesn't want to see people coming in, perhaps bringing germs into his business establishment. What can the small business owner do in this?
He or she cannot prohibit a person from coming in, but that's what he wants. He just wants to keep his establishment policy. So what's your recommendation in this case?
Peggy: Yeah, that's actually an excellent question. And again, I go back to the law. So if a business, a small business owner wants to require that his employees wear a mask, he can set that out as a condition of employment. However, if an employee says, "I can't wear a mask for one of these reasons, medical, religious," those would ...
Maybe age, maybe they're older, or they can't see very well in the mask obscures ... Or for some reason, wearing a mask presents a hardship for them, by law, again, it's not by opinion, or desire, or health, but by law, that small business owner must accommodate that employee who says, "I can't."
Now, they could have them work in a different location of the office. They might have them come at different hours, maybe after the hours or not be with the public or something like that. So there can be accommodations made.
But to say, "You must wear it, or you will be fired," that's going to result in a lawsuit. And the lawsuit, if the person wants to file a lawsuit, and the lawsuit would be unlawful dismissal because of the civil rights being violated.
It's a very interesting situation. Along the same lines, if that person who worked there was worried about people coming in without a mask because they didn't want to be sick or something like that, that individual would have to make alternate accommodations for that person.
But the law states that that individual has free and equal access to the facilities of that business. So serving them on the sidewalk is not the same. Because they have free and equal access inside that facility to all of the services available.
So if that person, for example, wanted to ... And again, it has ... The rule for discrimination is whether it's happening to one person only. So for example, let's say somebody had a gas station and the gas station bathroom was only for employees. And somebody came in and said, "I want to use the bathroom." And he said, "No, I'm sorry, you can't." That person could not sue on civil rights because that bathroom is closed to everyone equally.
The bathroom is only for privacy, it's closed to everyone. But if that gas station owner said, "You have to wear a mask to use the bathroom, or you can't use it," that is discrimination because it allows some people to come in, but it doesn't allow others to come in. So you see how that's different? There can't be one situation for those with a mask and one situation for those without a mask.
Now, if everybody got served on the sidewalk and nobody came into the store, mask or no mask, now it's equal. If they said, "I'm sorry, nobody in at all, we can only serve you if you call. Mask or no mask, everybody has to call." Now it's equal. But to allow some people to shop and allow the ones without ...
It should actually be the opposite. The ones with the mask should stay on the sidewalk and be served if they're the ones that don't want to be with other people. I mean, I'm just using that as an exaggeration, but the fact is everyone should have equal access.
And it's not my opinion. And it's not even whether it's a good idea or a bad idea. That's something else. That's another discussion. My discussion is, "This is what the law says." And if we don't abide by the law then we no longer have a law-abiding society. Because none of these laws say that you may not discriminate, except in the case of an emergency. That's not in the law, and it doesn't say except in the case of a disease.
Now, if they want to make a new law that says that, then we abide by that new law. But right now, the store ... And the reason I'm focusing on the stores, even though I have people talking about the airlines, and the dentist office, and the schools.
The reason I'm talking about the stores is because people have to have food to eat. And because the government declared these stores as essential, the government itself is stating that this is an essential public accommodation. And those are the words that are used in the law, public accommodation.
So if I had a ... If I gave piano lessons in my home, just in my home, I could refuse anybody I want. Me, personally. Because I'm giving piano lessons in my home. It's not a public accommodation. It's my private home, and I'm teaching piano lessons.
And if I want you to wear red socks and a yellow hat to come into my home, you have to wear red socks and a yellow hat because it's my private home. But once I open up a business in a city and I have a business license from the government, I am now in a different class, and I'm in something called public accommodation.
And that's why saying, "It's a private business, they can do whatever they want." That's not accurate. Okay? It's actually the opposite. You're a public accommodation. Even though you own that business, you are serving the public and you have to serve the public equally.
And there have been many, many lawsuits about this previously regarding gay rights, and baking cakes for gay couples. And now I understand why that was such a large issue, and it wasn't because of the person's beliefs. Because they had a business, they had to serve everybody equally, regardless of the individual's beliefs. That's the law. Now we can change the laws, but that takes a little while to change.
7. What Does “Six Feet Apart” Mandate Imply?
Mike: Are there laws that would prohibit the government from mandating six feet apart?
Peggy: The issue withstanding six feet apart is that it is, first of all, very difficult to ... You can easily see if someone's wearing a mask or not. You can point them out and say, "They're breaking the law there." But standing six feet apart, you're passing somebody in the aisle, that kind of thing. The fact is there is no law, none of these are actually laws themselves. These are recommendations or they are temporary orders.
So when someone is in business, and let's say they get a visit from environmental health to write up a ticket, or a citation, or a violation, there is no regulation that they can be cited for regarding not standing six feet apart. And these are going to court right now.
In fact, I'm very closely following a couple of cases in California where restaurants did not have the mask. They did not seat people., They let people come inside the restaurant instead of sitting outside, which in California ... I don't know if you're in California. But California now, they're saying they want you to sit outside instead of inside. They kept the restaurant open, they did not make people stand six feet apart, and they did not make people wear a mask.
There were many, many complaints and the Department of Health wrote up all the numbers of the complaints, but there's no law that they're breaking. So there's no violation that has to be paid because there is no law. There's no law that states you have to be six feet apart.
Now they can harass you. They can come to bother you and say, "We're going to give you a citation." But what are you going to give me a citation for? There is no law to give you a citation. They can make something up. They can say, "Oh, your floor is slippery. Or your refrigerator isn't cold enough." That's actually a regulation, that your refrigeration has to be a certain temperature. So if it's higher than 40 degrees, they could write you a ticket for it. But they have to write you a ticket for something else.
Can they harass you? They'll try. Can they show up every day? Yes. Can they put a closed sign on the door and lock it? Yes. Is that legal? No. What do you do? You go to court and you fight it. And some people don't want to go to court, so they'll just do what they're told.
And others are going to go to court because their principles and their values are more important to them than the money. And some of these people are standing up, and they are going to court. And the judge decides, right? The health officer doesn't have any decision making, and even the person who writes the ticket doesn't have any power. The judge decides is this lawful or is it no law? And I hope that it goes to court. There needs to be ruling so people will be clear. Many people are not clear on it.
8. Further Goals Towards the Mask-Free Hours
Mike: So your main task for big businesses is to have a mask free hour. That's what your main goal is? And that will solve your issue, that's your goal?
Peggy: The first part of your statement is correct. That is my goal, but I don't know ... The reason I want them to do that is because I want them to admit that they are discriminating. It's almost like a ... Because I don't know that it will solve the mask problem per se, but I do want them to acknowledge that they have been discriminating against a large number of people.
The main issue, Mike, is that whether they're healthy or not healthy, or people have an issue, the main thing is there is no law. And they don't have the right to make a law. And they're also not law enforcement. So these clerks that work at Walmart and all, they don't have the legal authority, even if it was a law.
Let's say that there's a law. They don't have the legal authority to enforce a law. And let me give you an example. If someone is shoplifting at Walmart, they cannot apprehend that individual. They don't have the legal authority. They have to call law enforcement for that individual to be apprehended.
Now they can call their security and the security can question them, but the security may not even detain them. They don't unless that person is a law enforcement officer, only law enforcement has the authority to enforce the law.
So the clerk at Walmart cannot enforce ... Even if it was a law that carried a $1,000 penalty, the clerk at Walmart does not have any authority to declare that. You would need to have a sheriff and police at Walmart policing it. And my goal in all of this is to force people to look at the law, and to force them to look at what we're talking about because this is not going to stop.
And next will be a vaccine certificate to enter the store. And by whose authority? Are you going to have a doctor present at the entrance of Walmart to determine whether you individually have the physical ability to have a vaccine?
Furthermore, even if you were able to withstand the vaccine in this country, you have a right under the Patient's Bill of Rights to refuse any medical treatment you don't want. That's also a law. It was written under the Obama Administration. It's called the Patient's Bill of Rights. And under the Patient's Bill of Rights, you can refuse any medical intervention, including wearing a mask, including having your temperature taken, including being tested.
So my goal is to educate people on this information. And because the stores are in the news, and because they're acting as policemen, I'm really ... I don't want to call it a publicity stunt, but I would say it's a little bit more of a publicity stunt. Yes, I hope they do it, but I actually want to draw publicity to their wrong actions. So that's actually the most honest answer I can give you.
On a final note
The mask policy is debated across the country. According to many reviews on PissedConsumer.com, people are not equally treated due to their choice of not wearing a mask. As a consumer, you might want to know and understand how the mask-wearing policy and six feet apart mandate work.
In this article, we’ve covered the interview with Peggy Hall, an activist who fights for human rights. We thank Peggy for her time and willingness to share knowledge about mask-wearing issues. In Peggy’s words, “No emergency suspends the law.” It’s not a matter of whether we agree or disagree with the speaker. It’s about the legal aspects and people’s choice to act as per their conditions and/or beliefs.
Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Stay healthy!
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