Concerns surrounding citizens not wearing masks amid COVID-19

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Spotty mask enforcement is worrying workers and residents in the area.

Businesses are often left to decide how and when to confront customers who don't comply.

"I want people to take this more seriously," is one of the many thoughts that went through Mari's mind as she recorded a video Friday on her way to work onboard a SEPTA bus.

Maria was startled by the fact that on her commute, she seemed singled out in her efforts to mask-up.

"These people, the passengers, actually had their masks," said Maria. "But they weren't wearing them."

That raised red flags, as Pennsylvania has made mask-wearing mandatory in all public spaces.

The concern, even greater for Mari, who asked Action News to not give out her full name says she's at high-risk for contracting coronavirus.

Maria recorded the video in the hopes of grabbing the attention of SEPTA officials.

"I was just surprised they opened the door and let them in, at least recommend it say something," she said.

In a statement to Action News, a SEPTA official said:
"SEPTA cannot refuse service to riders if they will not wear a face covering, however, we are committed to continuing efforts to educate riders on the health benefits- to themselves, to their fellow riders and to SEPTA employees - of wearing a facing covering."

SEPTA says they also worry about escalation tensions between operators and passengers, which in their words would be counterproductive.

Officials stated they do review videos like Mari's to see where they can do better. But overall, they say compliance has been good.

Public transit isn't alone in their efforts to enforce the mandate.

"I think that people, for some reason, they are trying tie to the mask-wearing as trying to take away their freedom," said Coyote Crossing owner Carlos Melendez.

Melendez says aside from an employee, who for medical reasons can't wear a mask, the staff has had no issue.

Customers have also done as asked, but there has been some resistance on that front.

"We tell them we just don't want to be shut down again, and we're in it together," said Melendez.

Melendez says visits from the health department also provide plenty of motivation to stay compliant.

Philadelphia says a business can refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask, sort of like the 'no shoes, no shirt' policy.

Some stores like the Beer Shoppe in Ardmore, Delaware County says issues have been almost non-existent.

"We've gotten no pushback at all, everyone has been cooperative," said manager David Meade. "We'll keep doing our part and keep trying to do a service for folks."
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