Follow the rules!

People have lodged complaints about customers at the Walmart stores in Evans Mills and Watertown not adhering to safety protocols. Lauren Miller/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — A Jefferson County official says the county is getting numerous complaints that Walmart is not following the state’s social distancing rules for the coronavirus.

Scott A. Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Legislature and a member of the Control Room group overseeing the north region’s reopening, said Tuesday that the state is reviewing complaints that Walmart is not complying with social distancing rules at stores throughout the state.

The county is receiving complaints on a daily basis about Walmart in regards to overcapacity at its local stores, social distancing and that both customers and employees are not wearing facial coverings, he said.

Mr. Gray said “by all appearances” Walmart is ignoring the state’s guidelines and “not enforcing” the social distancing rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It looks like Walmart is not asking customers to wear masks, he said.

“It appears that they’re just going through the motions,” he said.

As the result of the complaints, the county is sending out letters to big-box retailers telling the businesses to follow Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive orders about social distancing.

According to the governor’s office, stores and businesses are required to deny customers entrance if they do not wear a face covering. The public also is required to wear masks in public.

“Thanks to New York’s data-driven approach, we’ve bent the curve of coronavirus, but we must stay vigilant,” a spokesman in the governor’s office.

“The state requires businesses to create health and safety plans, which include affirming that staff and customers will be required to wear masks. This straightforward obligation is meant to protect the public health, and stores should work with local officials to ensure it is implemented.”

Since the guidelines were put into place in March, the state has forwarded numerous complaints to the county about north country businesses failing to comply with the guidelines.

Mr. Gray said the county has a five-inch-thick mound of complaints about local businesses, including “a sporadic” number of restaurants, that haven’t followed the executive order for customers to wear masks or comply with six-foot social distancing.

When notified about a business, the county sends out letters of reminders that everyone needs to do their part in preventing the spread of the virus.

There also have been restaurants that have ordered customers to wear masks or they won’t be served, Mr. Gray said.

Walmart corporate officials in Arkansas could not be reached for comment.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(27) comments

zeitgeist

In order to foster responsible journalism at the Times on the issue of COVID, let's include Kate Lisa in the 9:30 am editorial board meetings. Let her chime in from her perch in Albany. She's the excellent reporter who writes on Cuomo's daily briefings for the Times. Presumably, she's gained knowledge and perspective on Cuomo, COVID and NY. Kate Lisa could provide "balance" to an editorial board that is seemingly infected with Cuomo bias and obsessed with Republican allegiances . Let's hear more from Kate Lisa. Let her write her opinions on matters pertaining to COVID, NY and Cuomo.

rockloper

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Empathy

We're making a list and checking it twice we will be doing business with only those who are nice enough to care about our lives and follow the best health practices the law outlines. We won't forget.

Holmes -- the real one

Yet another reason to avoid Walmart.

UnclePoncho

I've avoided Walmart for this entire pandemic. I will continue to do so

minder

[thumbup]

rockloper

[thumbup]

rockloper

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Holmes

Hmmm, the CoViD mask police are out at Walmart. The Watertown vigilantes complaining about those noncomplying mask free people. The constitution doesn’t go away during a pandemic. What is Watertown turning into Venezuela?

CondervstismIsFaiure

See Schenck v. US (1919), before making a fool of yourself.

Holmes -- the real one

Not likely that one will read references. And it's probably way too late for the "before making a fool of yourself" part too.

But thanks for posting the case.

rockloper

[beam]

rockloper

It's way too late, he made a fool of himself long ago.

Holmes -- the real one

I guess there's something to be said for consistency.

rockloper

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elderberry

Does Venezuela have Walmarts where the customers are forced to wear masks against their will? A bit of hyperbole there, "Holmes". And what is the point of copying someone else's handle? Kind of juvenile.

rockloper

You're right, the constitution doesn't go away and neither does the preamble.

hermit thrush

right, those "no shirt, no shoes, no service" policies that everyone was totally ok with in pre-pandemic times were just like venezuela.

Eagle24

Nailed it!.... only difference is, and no one wants to see POTUS without a shirt..

zeitgeist

Does this mean that Scott Gray's original "compassion" approach regarding businesses that fail to meet state mandates has evolved into a "letters" approach now that complaints fill an entire book? Help! Enforce the mandates! Do your job North Country Control Room, it's a life and death matter and our economy depends on it.

Meanwhile, a culture of no masks and no social distancing has developed throughout the north country. The failure of the Control Room to enforce mandates is contributing to it enormously. Change that, now!

Lisa H

Same at several Walmarts in St Lawrence County. Walmart doesn't care. Maybe it's time to hit them in the pocketbook.

Holmes -- the real one

God and Walmart

-- about the Walmart corporate ethos and the people it attracts to shop there --

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2009/11/god-and-walmart/

rockloper

[thumbup] Stewart's has gotten much worse as well. some of the 'mom and pop' businesses don't even pretend to comply.

Holmes -- the real one

Scott Gray has shown his spots several times during this pandemic. The WDT360 has made its own call for REOPEN, REOPEN and roundly criticized Cuomo for being cautious and following the advice of experts. They also disparaged general hygiene measures and social distancing in their piece on the Irish festival gathering. Then we have the local tea baggers, Trump supporters, 2nd amendment gun sanctuary club members, conspiracy theorists, not to mention those who "don't believe in science" -- so what should be done to address the situation with all of these folks?

rockloper

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zeitgeist

We need responsible journalism at the Times, Scott Gray and the Control Room to do their job of enforcing mandates, and Republican politicians to stop obstructing the Cuomo's wise and informed COVID leadership.

minder

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