People refusing to wear masks in downtown businesses has become a problem, and the Downtown Duncan BIA is holding a workshop for its members and their staff on strategies to deal with it.
Amanda Vance, executive director of the DDBIA, said the vast majority of customers in the businesses follow the rules and wear masks, but there are others who refuse to wear one and will argue with staff about it.
“It’s stressful for employees, especially the young ones, when people won’t wear a mask and then refuse to leave the store when they are asked to,” she said.
“There tends to be a lot of arguing when people won’t follow the rules, even though they are familiar with them.”
Vance said that, in response, the DDBIA is offering a free conflict de-escalation workshop on Zoom, where business owners and their staff will receive instruction on how to self-regulate in conflict situations and “lower the temperature”, while developing assertion skills to employ in confrontational exchanges with customers.
The workshop will be facilitated by Evan Hoffman, from the Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiation, and held virtually on March 15 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
There will be a video to watch in advance which business owners can also share with their staff.
DDBIA members can sign up for the workshop at email@example.com, but it is limited to just 20 participants and no recording will be available afterwards.
“The workshop will mainly focus on assertive training and negotiating,” Vance said.
“It will be an opportunity for staff to role play and practice how to deal with these situations, as well as bond with each other. Participants will be taught ways to talk to people in a polite and calm, but also firm, way.”
B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner states that mask wearing is mandatory in all indoor public spaces in the province, except for those who are under the age of 12; those who are unable to wear a mask because of a health condition or physical or mental impairment; or those who are unable to put on or remove a mask without help from another person.
Vance said many stores downtown can accommodate those who refuse to wear a mask and don’t fit the criteria for being in a public indoor space without one.
She said some take shopping appointments in which customers can book a time to shop without having to be around other customers.
“Customers can also shop online at many of our member stores and pick up their merchandise from the curb,” she said.