LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Valley businesses have tough decisions to make about mask requirements and proof of COVID-19 vaccinations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most settings. Following that guidance, many businesses across Las Vegas are tossing mask requirements out the window.
But a big question remains whether they can ask customers for proof of vaccination.
“Most people are not wearing masks when they come in,” said JJ Wylie, co-owner of Grouchy John’s Coffee.
The coffee shop just made masks optional for customers. Wylie says this is because some patrons were picking fights with employees over the weekend, and they want to avoid any future arguments.
“We can’t feasibly ask every customer what their vaccination status is, so it’s kind of an honor system that we’re relying on,” he explained.
Other businesses, such as GRRRL Clothing in Downtown Las Vegas, are taking a different approach.
“The honor system is a joke,” GRRRL CEO Kortney Olson said.
She is opening her storefront in June, and when she does, she will still require masks for everyone.
“Just keep it simple. Wear a mask,” Olson said. “We don’t want people having to prove whether or not they’ve had a vaccine.”
But if a business wanted to ask for proof, is that legal?
“It’s well within their rights,” said attorney Ayesha Mehdi, partner at Spencer Fane LLP.
She explains non-healthcare businesses can ask for proof of vaccination, since they will not be violating HIPAA laws. But there are still rules they must follow.
“If you’re asking for that health information, just be sure that you do have to follow state identity theft laws and privacy laws,” Mehdi said.
While Grouchy John’s Coffee is hopeful customers will tell the truth, they have some safeguards in place.
“I know there are probably people who are going to fudge things just because they don’t want to wear masks, which is why we’re keeping the mask requirement in place for our crew and employees,” Wylie said.
While some local businesses are still deciding what to do, big box stores, such as Target, Walmart and Costco, are getting rid of mask requirements for those who are fully vaccinated.