We are nearing the end of October, which means that we have been living with this COVID nightmare for about seven months. Unfortunately, the winter months aren’t expected to bring any relief, so you and your employees should continue to do the same things you’ve been doing – wear masks, social distance, use sanitizer, do regular temperature checks. If there is a bright side, it’s that many of these things have become habits, so maintaining them is easier than adopting new practices.

Unfortunately, COVID fatigue has set in, and many people aren’t as diligent about protection as they were at the start of this mess. If you look at the news, it doesn’t take long before you find large (maskless) gatherings of people who want freedom and are tired of the “tyranny” of wearing masks. You can also find viral videos of people barging into stores, ignoring the signs about wearing masks, and raising a fuss when they’re told to either wear a mask or leave. These people will go out of their way to paint themselves as a freedom fighter disagreeing with a senseless rule. But make no mistake: they’re the villains. Not the store employee, not the manager. They’re the idiots who follow the “No shirt, No shoes, No service” rule but blow a gasket when you add “No masks, No service.”

At the end of the day, it is your business. If you set rules for dealing with the Coronavirus, you can enforce them. You can mandate masks and social distancing if you want to. You can accept only credit cards for sanitary reasons. If you have a consumer, a visitor or even an employee who refuses to follow your policy, you can have them removed from the premises.

If you’ve decided to remove any mask rules from your place of business, that’s also your choice – assuming that there are no state or city policies in place that supersede it. If you do, however, know that you may be putting your employees and visitors at risk. You should probably look at the latest Coronavirus numbers in your county before you make that decision. Numbers are on the rise in many states, and not just in heavily populated urban areas, either.

Until a vaccine is widely available – and we’re nowhere near that day – these are the kinds of decisions you as a business owner are going to have to make. Bear in mind that even in a normal year, winter is flu season. Add the Coronavirus to that, and you’re talking about many, many germs out there. Make the decisions that keep you and the people in your building safe.