Masked or maskless? Depends on what side of the counter you’re on

Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted mask requirements for fully vaccinated people indoors, many employers have told workers to continue wearing masks. Meanwhile, customers are free to bare their faces in swanky restaurants and middling retail stores. At a time when less than half the U.S. population has been vaccinated and new Covid variants are on the rise, masks may become a new marker of social class. Public-facing workers interact all day with customers, putting their own health and their employers’ staffing levels at risk. Most businesses are running on the honor system when it comes to customers’ vaccination status, leaving many workers feeling leery. Yet, as The New York Times reports, the starkest divides have been observed in wealthier enclaves, where entitlement and costs are high. While the mask divide may not always be intentional, the image of moneyed, maskless, and mostly white clientele being served by masked, hourly workers who are predominantly people of color can be an unsettling sight.

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The Counter Stories by our editors.