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A person wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walks by a shop displaying face coverings in Allentown, Pa., Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) A person wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walks by a shop displaying face coverings in Allentown, Pa., Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A person wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walks by a shop displaying face coverings in Allentown, Pa., Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman May 22, 2020

Post falsely claims people should report Pennsylvania stores that refuse to serve maskless customers

If Your Time is short

  • Essential businesses in many states require that all employees and customers wear masks while inside the store. They must do so by law.

  • The Pennsylvania Health Department, whose number was included in the post, said that businesses that are not following guidance regarding wearing a mask are what should be reported.

Posts on Facebook are urging people to report stores that refuse service to customers who try to enter without wearing masks.

"If ur (sic) refused service at a store for no mask call the dept of health and report the store. Masks are suggested, not required," says a post shared on April 28.

The number listed in the post calls the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s 24/7 phone line that’s intended for people to report a "public health emergency."

But this is bad advice. In many states, Pennsylvania included, employees and customers are required to wear masks inside stores. It’s when businesses don’t enforce those rules that they should be reported, the health department says.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

Featured Fact-check

Pennsylvania’s Worker Safety Order states that essential businesses must require that all customers "wear masks while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of such goods."

It also says that the measure doesn’t apply to individuals who cannot wear masks due to their medical condition, or to children under the age of 2 per CDC guidance.

"This is incorrect," said Nate Wardle, press secretary for Pennsylvania’s DOH. "Stores and businesses that are not following guidance regarding wearing a mask are what are to be reported. Stores have the right, as defined in our Worker Safety Order, to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask."

States differ on mask policies right now, but businesses largely have the right to refuse service under U.S. law, as long as it isn’t on discriminatory grounds, which includes turning people away based on their race, religion, sex or national origin. 

We rate this False.

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Post falsely claims people should report Pennsylvania stores that refuse to serve maskless customers

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