In the front window of a UPS store in Newport, Vermont, customers are asked to do their part by social distancing. Next to the sign is a contradictory message.
The store is telling customers that he and his employees refuse to wear masks, begging the question: the store doing their part?
The sign warns customers in red print, “We choose not to wear a mask…Don’t come in to ensure your own comfort…If you decide to come in, do not ask us to put on a mask.”
It has led Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan to file a civil lawsuit against the store and against its owner Andre “Mark” Desautels.
But for some people, the choice to not go in isn’t that simple.
“Essentially this our mailing address…so we come in town periodically for groceries and stuff and just go to ups store and get our mail,” said Tracy Yindra.
Yindra says there isn’t a post office where she lives. Instead, she drives 30 minutes into town to send and receive her mail and packages. The owner’s failure to comply with the mask mandate makes her worried that she’ll need to change her mailing address.
“I just find it a little bit disrespectful for your families and friends, you’re trying to protect yourself and others,” said Lake Region Union High School student Zoe Perry.
Another Newport resident expressed similar disappointment.
“I find it very inconvenient. That’s why I have two masks going in there,” said Kathleen Carter.
Like Kathleen, many were unable to ship their packages Friday. Kathleen was instructed to drive an hour to Stowe to complete her return. She explained, while she could schedule UPS to pick up her item from home, that service would have cost as much as the item.
One man, who didn’t wear a mask in the store, supports the owner. He says the decision is up to the individual. But that didn’t stop UPS from ending their relationship with the store.
UPS said in a statement:
“The UPS store requires masks as part of our uniform standards and the franchisee and the franchisee’s associates in this location were in violation of that policy. we take customer safety very seriously and made repeated attempts to gain compliance from this franchise owner,” said UPS Spokesperson Jenny Robinson.
Governor Phil Scott also pointed out that the store was in direct violation of the guidelines.
“The unfortunate part about all of this is, it was avoidable. If they just complied with the guidelines we put into place and ups corporate has asked as well, they would be open today,” said Scott.
The owner did not wish to comment on camera. He did say the store will be operating as a print shop and his lawyers will be getting involved.