Downtown Shopping

A sign encourages shoppers at Gracie’s to wear masks as visitors stroll The Strand in Galveston on Monday, June 1, 2020. Some island shops have stopped requiring masks after some patrons became angry and confrontational about it.

“My house, my rules.” Anyone who has ever had a teenager in the home has said it. Anyone who has ever been a teenager under a parent’s roof has heard it.

And there was no arguing it. It slammed down on a parent-child disagreement like a guillotine, severing any chance of whining, wheedling or worming acquiescence from the parent who, face it, was right most of the time anyway.

You either got in line or you got out.

But it seems some visitors to retail shops around the county didn’t get the memo.

The Daily News reported Tuesday that many business owners have been asking customers to wear masks while in their stores. Some are even offering free masks for people without them who want to cross the threshold from window shopping to actual shopping. The idea is to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus to employees and patrons.

And most shoppers are happy to comply. But not everyone. Masks have become a political and cultural battleground for many.

Some business owners and managers reported customers pushing back against the wearing of masks. Some customers even got confrontational about it.

Let’s get this straight: Although retail establishments are open to the public, they are private businesses and their owners, for the most part, get to set the rules about what goes on in their stores.

Simple as that. If you don’t like it, don’t shop there.

We’re talking about people who are members of the communities they serve trying to protect other members of their communities from a potentially fatal medical crisis.

So why put up a fuss over the mask? Or worse, be a jerk about it?

There are people who who think the masks are to protect themselves. They don’t wear them because they don’t feel the risk is great enough to be bothered or think that because it’s their health, they get to decide how to manage — or mismanage — it.

Then there are those who know that the purpose of the mask is to protect others and stem the spread of the coronavirus. But they think it’s unnecessary or futile or that their right not to wear a mask overrules a nod toward the greater good and a sense of good will and responsibility toward others — or a business owner’s right to protect staff and other customers.

No one can legally require someone looking to buy sunscreen in Galveston, cupcakes in Texas City or auto parts in La Marque to wear a mask. And even though it’s recommended, it’s still your right not to.

But if a store owner wants you to wear a mask to shop in his or her store, rather than cause a fuss or get combative over it, just exercise your right to shop elsewhere. Simple as that.

• Margaret Battistelli Gardner

Margaret Battistelli Gardner: 409.683.5227;


Deputy Managing Editor

Margaret joined The Daily New in December 2019, bringing more than 20 years of editorial experience to the team. A Philadelphia native, she lives in Galveston County with her husband, Steve, and their dog Nanook.

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(16) comments

Bailey Jones

It's a free country, you can shop anywhere you want.

It's a free country, you can refuse service to anyone you want.

That's how a free society works. Stop pouting.

Charles Douglas

A free country? Not for long! It would seem that patriotic Americans who loves America and desires to keep it free are becoming hard to find! American desiring to exist in a free country are becoming a dying breed disappearing from existence, like the Great Horse Culture, the Buffalo, and the American Frontier! XI JINPING'S type of governing is what many living here desires now! We want to loot, steal, burn down bussinesses belonging to others, and beat old ladies with two by fours in the middle of the streets, and many here wants to kill anybody who stands for law and order!

Virginia Stone

You will get used to it Charles, the times they are a-changing, think seat belts and liability insurance.

Casey Alan

Thank you very much for writing this. I just hope the people that need to read it reads it. I’m so sick and tired of hearing people say ”Well if you don’t like the fact that we’re not wearing a mask don’t go there go someplace else“. So I say to these people if you don’t want to wear a mask then go someplace else. Use your own philosophy on yourself.

Don Schlessinger

I was in our WalMart about 10 days ago and, full of tourists, 80% of the shoppers were not wearing masks. Over this last weekend I was in the Harlingen WalMart and 80% of the customers wore masks. We live in a tourist trap, just like trash left on our streets and beaches we have to put up with people not wearing masks. I think they call that disrespect.

dawn wilson

It is called entitlement, and unfortunately we have a nation full of it.

Carlos Ponce

We've had visitors to our museum. People walk in mask in hand and ask, "Are masks required?" My reply, "I leave that up to you. If you want to wear one, no problem. If you don't want to wear one, no problem." Only two have worn masks on their tour. The rest did not.

Raymond Lewis

Good piece Ms Gardner. And you are correct; their business, their rules.

Ray Taft

In this editorial we learn: “The Daily News reported Tuesday that many business owners have been asking customers to wear masks while in their stores.”

Seems unimportant when anarchy, that is affecting so many innocent people, is reining in so many Democrat-controlled cites affecting. The angry mobs freely roam city streets looting and setting property on fire. The rioters primarily wear masks to conceal their identity, and they care about as much for social distancing, as they care about respecting property and human rights.

Business owners in those cities are probably asking, ‘why me,’ when I didn’t have anything to do with a Democrat Police Chief and Mayor not being able to stop police brutality on their own police force.

Dan Freeman

Some people not wearing masks and hanging out together is a nice example of real time natural selection. I am looking forward to the unmasked Republican convention.

Bailey Jones

I want to see huge rallies in every city!

Wayne D Holt

Very true. Those of us who have abstained from wearing masks in almost all circumstances are developing immunity to it, as well as the over 150 other viruses that are typically found in community spread in America.

When you wear a mask despite not being at risk you are INCREASING the odds you may continue to inhale Covid-19 from any droplets you may have passed through and were lodged in your mask. Instead of passing through them into clean air, you have the perfect contraption affixed to your face to 1) breath in the virus particles in a continual cycle and 2) weaken your own immune system by recycling your exhaled respiratory waste into your body again.

The mask cult in most instances continues to be the defining totem of those who don't accept the WHO recommendations, which state it is helpful only for those who are caring for a Covid-19 patient or if the caregiver has Covid-19 themselves. It has become the 21st century magic amulet and muttered secret formula all rolled into one.

Unless you plan on playing the role of Bubble Boy or Bubble Girl for the rest of your time on earth, you are just kidding yourself as to the efficacy or necessity for most people in most circumstances. Did you know there are enough surgical teams who don't wear masks during procedures to actually gather statistics on their safety...and there is no statistical difference between masked and unmasked infection rates post-procedure?

A business 100% has the right to require masks. Fortunately, there are many businesses that don't and that's where my money will be going. Their choice, my choice.

Christine Mangle

Mr. Holt, respectfully, what you wrote about developing immunity is hogwash. Please take the time to speak to Infectious Disease M.D.s and anyone with a Masters In a Public Health. They will tell you that you are incorrect.

Jim Forsythe

Dan, be careful what you ask for, it could be in Houston!

Ted Gillis

Wayne’s World

Carlos Ponce


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