Business owners frustrated with noncompliant, maskless customers

As cases of the delta variant rise, nearly all Bay Area counties are back under a mask mandate on Tuesday. But some businesses were worried that customers who were tired of rules, would take out their frustrations on them.

Business owners said the majority of customers were happy to comply. It was the few that were not agreeable that pose a problem.

At Recycle Bookstore in San Jose, customers needed to have a love of literature and a mask.

Unfortunately, a few came with only contempt for the rules.

"You're emotional. You're upset. But you also know this person is a possible disease vector so you try to stay away," said Brian Cage of Recycle Bookstore.

Even though the Bay Area is under a mask mandate again, store managers are unsure it would make a difference.

"Now we've gotten to the point where people are tired of this and they just don't care. And we're just a hurdle," said Cage.

Businesses noticed the same thing happening at the Community Foods Market in West Oakland. 

Managers were left to enforce the rules and deal with unruly customers, such as when a maskless woman started hurling produce.

"She just gets upset about the situation and she throws a half watermelon and then the store manager tried to take over the situation and she threw a bigger watermelon," said Rocio Juan, a manager at the market.

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They hope the mandate would make people more compliant.

"We're trying to protect everybody you know," said Juan.

The first day of the reinstituted mask mandate also happened to coincide with the reopening of San Jose City Hall.

"We recognize that we have to continue to be very cautious and obviously the mask mandate is important. We have to get vaccinated, we have to wear masks. But we also need to carry on the business of the city," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

For the first time since the pandemic, a city council meeting went on in front of masked constituents who said they were happy to be seen and heard.

"I'm sure this was planned ahead of the delta spike and things that are going on. I feel fine being here with a mask," said Erika Costanza of San Jose. She added, "It's nice to be here in person."

As for how long this new mask mandate will last, Bay Area health officials said they will keep monitoring data, including vaccination rates, to see when it can be lifted.