Retailers struggle to comply with 'no mask, no service' rule in Latvia

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Since Thursday, public service providers, such as retailers, can be penalized if they provide services to a person who is not wearing a face mask. Traders are unable to comply with this requirement, Latvian Television reported November 20.

Head of Latvian Traders Association Henriks Danusēvičs said that control is not the function of traders. For example, children under 13 years and people with health problems may not use masks, but traders have no way of checking if someone has a health condition or not.

Danusēvičs said that monitoring compliance with administrative acts is not a function of retailers, it is a function of the police, but apparently “the police cannot cope with it" or want to "charge more penalties [from retailers] to bring [money] in the budget”.

Danusēvičs pointed out that smaller shops might need to employ security guards for customer control, which is a substantial extra cost, or face a €5,000 penalty, and in some places small shops could choose not to work at all because of such difficulties. In that case, remote municipalities can find themselves with no grocery stores at all.

He said that, particularly in areas where COVID-19 is not widespread, people do not want to use masks and there are often conflict situations with customers, but maintaining security and monitoring compliance with administrative acts is the responsibility of the police and not the sellers.

The association calls on the government to waive penalties for entrepreneurs, but traders will take part and commit to actively informing customers about the need to use face masks.

He also argued that specialized stores with an area of more than 10,000 square meters which may not open on holidays or weekends are worried about potential bankruptcies, because they also have to pay utility charges those days that the government doesn't compensate for. According to him, if such restrictions are in place for another 2-3 weeks, these traders will still be able to survive, but if these rules drag on until the new year, bankruptcies will follow.

From November 20, people visiting stores without a facemask are liable to a 50 euro fine, with even stiffer penalties for repeat offences.


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