Irish bookshop owner defends facemask policy after backlash

By June 20, 2020Bookshops, News

A bookshop owner in Cork, Ireland has had to defend her decision to ask customers to wear masks when visiting the shop.

Joan Lucey, owner of Vibes and Scribes on Lavitt’s Quay in Cork, opened up her shop again on Tuesday but asked customers to wear their own mask or get one from the shop.

“We asked people to wear masks for the safety of our staff and our customers and if they didn’t have one, we were happy to provide them with one and they could make a donation to the Cork Sexual Violence Centre, ” explained Ms Lucey. “But we were very surprised when we discovered this really bad reaction on line with some people going on to our Facebook page, accusing us of trying to humiliate them and others saying that they were going to blacklist us.”

One comment on the bookshop’s Facebook page said: “Compulsory masks and sanitizers [sic] are my reasons for blacklisting the shops. It’s not Covid that kills small business, it’s those shops’ own policies.”

Another person was pleased the shop had reopened, however said they would “not step a foot inside unless you remove the absurd requirement for people to wear masks”.

“Happy to see you have been ‘allowed’ to reopen but very disappointed to see your mask policy! Big NO to masks!! Not necessary, not mandatory! Won’t be visiting your store or any store that has a mask policy,” another cried.

Ms Lucey said she was simply following official advice on masks, and mainly out of concern for her staff and vulnerable customers.

“We’re asking people to wear masks simply to protect our staff and customers and if for whatever reason, people refuse to wear a mask, we ask them to limit their visit to 10 minutes – again out of concern for our staff and customers.”

Ms Lucey thankfully also received many messages of support and solidarity from people saying they will visit her shop as Covid 19 has had a devastating impact on shops such as hers.

“Retail is on its knees. We’ve re-opened our bookshop and no matter what happens when we open up our craft supplies shop on Bridge Street, no matter how the customers feel towards us, it’s going to be very difficult. Funnily enough, in our online shop we’ve been selling huge amounts of products for mask making because we sell a lot of elastics and fabrics, so I was aware that people are making masks and people were pro-masks.

“I admit we didn’t consult with anybody but to be honest I didn’t feel that it was terribly relevant, I thought I was doing the right thing for my staff and my customers and to be fair, most our customers have been supportive.”

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