Black Friday stores safety rules to keep shoppers safe: curbside pickup, masks

  • Several stores have added additional safety precautions ahead of the Black Friday shopping frenzy to protect both customers and employees.
  • We spoke to three experts to find out which precautions will actually help.
  • The experts agree that enforcing mask-wearing and social distancing are good, but mandates like reducing store hours may be unhelpful or detrimental.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Several big-name retail stores have added additional in-store safety precautions ahead of the

Black Friday
shopping frenzy, and we spoke to three experts to find out which precautions will actually help the most.

Major stores across the country have implemented a variety of safety mandates to keep shoppers and employees safe on the historically frenzied Black Friday shopping day as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the US. For example, some stores — including JCPenney and Lowe’s— are offering contactless curbside pick-up, and others —  such as Home Depot and  T.J. Maxx — are requiring face masks.

The three experts we spoke to all agree that contactless curbside pickup and mandating face mask-wearing — retail protocols that have become normalized since the beginning of the pandemic — are beneficial to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We have data that show that large congregations of people, especially indoors, will lead to an outbreak,” Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, told Business Insider in an interview. “These other strategies [besides mask wearing] are really coming off of the knowledge that if we reduce people being in close contact by doing these other extra steps, hopefully, we can reduce transmission if people choose to go into stores.”

Read more: REI gives its employees a paid day off on Black Friday, but hourly workers say that it’s a ‘marketing move’ and that the company has strayed from its co-op roots

Stephen Kissler, an infectious disease researcher at Harvard’s School of Public Health, thinks the most important action stores can do is limit the number of customers inside — a mandate Walmart recently reinstated — to decrease the chances of a superspreader event. Weatherhead notes that setting a cap on the number of in-store customers will be helpful as long as it doesn’t create crowds of people waiting in close contact outside the store.

Mitigating the possibility of overcrowded stores

Black Friday

Black Friday.

NurPhoto/Getty Images

Stores like Michaels and Nordstrom will also be limiting store hours. However, Dr. Stanley Perlman, a professor at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine, states this “may not be helpful if other rules are followed.”

Both Kissler and Weatherhead take this a step further by expressing their concern over the strategy, stating that it may instead “backfire,” according to Kissler. 

“If you have more limited store hours, will it then lead to more crowded stores when stores are open?” Weatherhead said. “It doesn’t seem like there would be a benefit to limiting store hours in terms of reducing viral transmission.”

Weatherhead and Kissler suggest that stores should instead take the opposite

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Canada’s Proposed Privacy Overhaul Leans Toward European-Style Rules

Companies that misuse Canadians’ personal data could face fines reaching tens of millions of dollars under an overhaul of the nation’s privacy law proposed last week. But privacy experts and industry groups say the blueprint could also come with a silver lining for international businesses.

The similarities between the Canadian government’s legislation and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation mean companies that already do business in Europe may be able to tweak existing compliance programs if and when the new legislation becomes law, they say.

“It’s quite similar to what our peers in Europe have,” Sonia Carreno, president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada, said at a virtual workshop Monday sponsored by the trade group.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government introduced the Digital Charter Implementation Act, which would establish the Consumer Privacy Protection Act. The CPPA is intended to update an existing law that has governed Canada’s private sector since 2001.

Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry Navdeep Bains’s proposal would generally require companies to obtain consent to collect user data and allow consumers to request their information be corrected, disposed of or transferred to a different firm.

Fines for violations, such as collecting or disclosing data for purposes deemed inappropriate, could in some instances reach 25 million Canadian dollars ($19 million), or 5% of global revenues, whichever is higher. EU penalties, by comparison, similarly can reach the higher of two sums: €20 million ($24 million), or 4% of a company’s international revenue.

While the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada would investigate cases and recommend penalties, a new tribunal made up of three to six members would determine final assessments. Individuals could sue companies only if authorities first found a violation, said Ignacio Cofone, a privacy law professor at McGill University in Montreal.

“This weird private right of action means that a company may face private liability besides enormous fines,” said Mr. Cofone, who advised the Office of the Privacy Commissioner as it sought input on privacy reform this year. “Then, for the widely dispersed, but small breaches that the commissioner may not investigate, there’s no enforcement.”

Nonetheless, the proposal would still allow for more aggressive enforcement than Canada’s current law, privacy experts say. The office would also be able to audit companies’ practices and publicize the findings in annual reports to Parliament.

The Canadian proposal comes at a turbulent moment for trans-Atlantic privacy law. California voters approved a new set of consumer protections just months after the state attorney general had finalized rules for its predecessor. Thousands of companies are also wrestling with a July ruling by the European Court of Justice that invalidated a key legal mechanism used to transfer data between the U.S. and the EU.

The European Commission had previously deemed Canadian privacy protections adequate for such transfers of consumer data from the bloc. But a commission spokeswoman said that status is

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Secret Hasidic wedding with hundreds of attendees fined $15,000 for breaking coronavirus rules

Now, city leaders say they’re taking action. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said the event’s organizers will be fined $15,000 for violating pandemic restrictions, adding that more penalties could come.

“What we do know is unquestionably it was too many people,” De Blasio told reporters on Tuesday. “It appears that there was a very conscious effort to conceal what was going on. And that’s what makes it even more unacceptable.”

The wedding, organized by leaders of the Satmar sect, was the latest act of defiance against pandemic rules in Brooklyn’s Hasidic community, which health officials have cited for ignoring mask regulations and driving local spikes in the virus. Tensions boiled over in October, when hundreds of Orthodox Jews took to the streets to protest new restrictions on religious gatherings, clashing with the police and burning masks.

The conflicts come as coronavirus cases are on the rise in New York. The state reported 4,881 new cases and 45 new deaths on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post’s coronavirus tracker. In the past week, the percentage of new daily reported cases and deaths, as well as the percentage of covid-related hospitalizations have all risen in the state.

This was not the first time the Yetev Lev D’Satmar synagogue has come into conflict with officials over a wedding. In October, the state health commissioner personally intervened to shut down a planned wedding for the grandson of Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, the synagogue’s rabbi, that could have drawn 10,000 guests, the New York Times reported.

This month, for the wedding of the grandson of another rabbi, the sect’s leaders worked to keep the celebration a secret, according to Der Blatt, a Yiddish-language paper. The newspaper said it was aware of the wedding plans but remained quiet “so as not to attract an evil eye from the ravenous press and government officials,” reported the Times, which obtained a translated copy of the article.

But how did hundreds of attendees keep the secret?

“All notices about upcoming celebrations,” Der Blatt wrote, per the Times translation, “were passed along through word of mouth, with no notices in writing, no posters on the synagogue walls, no invitations sent through the mail, nor even a report in any publication, including this very newspaper.”

The wedding lasted more than four hours, the Times reported. Representatives of the Yetev Lev D’Satmar congregation did not respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment as of early Wednesday morning.

On Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) blasted the synagogue over the event, calling it a “blatant disregard of the law” that was “disrespectful to the people of New York.”

If the event’s organizers kept it “secret” due to the state health commissioner’s move to block October’s wedding at the synagogue, he said, that act of defiance would be “shocking.” The governor was also skeptical that local officials wouldn’t have been alerted to such a large gathering.

“If 7,000 people went to a wedding, you can figure that out right?” Cuomo

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Hasidic Community Plans Another Big Wedding, in Kiryas Joel, in Defiance of COVID-19 Rules

KIRYAS JOEL, N.Y.—Plans for a huge, rule-busting Hasidic wedding here were thrown into question Monday after the state sent a cease-and-desist order to the synagogue that was hosting it.

But the scene outside Congregation Yetev Lev synagogue on Garfield Road was a wild one come evening. In fact, the only palpable nod to the pandemic came when a mobile COVID-19 testing bus arrived around 5 p.m.

A steady flow of bearded, black-hatted people going in and out of the enormous synagogue were all unmasked. Large white tarps stretched from the overhang at the top of the stairs down to the floor, blocking passersby from seeing inside the venue.

Around the back, several workers were bringing pallets of bottled water into the space, along with stacks of banquet chairs and assorted staging materials. A number of rolling metal racks for holding food trays sat nearby. By shortly after 5 p.m., the parking lot was full.

A carpentry contractor leaving for the day told The Daily Beast a “big wedding” was planned for the evening. The worker said no one inside was wearing a mask, and that he was tired of asking them to put one on.

An hour after The Daily Beast published a story about the Monday wedding plans, the state health commissioner took the first step toward nixing them by issuing an order to Congregation Yetev Lev in Kiryas Joel, a spokesperson for the Orange County Health Department said.

A spokesperson for the State Department of Health subsequently said that the order, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Beast, called for the congregation “to cancel the wedding ceremonies unless they can be held in strict adherence with safe social distancing protocols.”

“In the event that the ceremonies are not canceled, the order requires that social-distancing and face-covering protocols be enforced,” the spokesperson continued. “With respect to the two receptions, it requires that they be limited to 50 people or canceled.”

An invitation being widely circulated had beckoned members of the Satmar community to the village an hour north of Manhattan for the Monday evening union of two members of prominent ultra-Orthodox families.

Word of the nuptials surfaced just a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the organizers of another rogue celebration that drew thousands of maskless guests to a synagogue in Brooklyn.

Typically, weddings of this sort are massive affairs that would be banned under New York State rules that limit gatherings at private residences to 10 people and religious gatherings below normal capacity.

Yetev Lev has already run afoul of the rules once before. In September, the county health department sent a warning letter that said: “It has come to our attention that your Congregation is operating without maintaining appropriate social distancing or the wearing of face coverings… and it operating in a way which endangers those inside the Congregation and those that they come in contact with.”

It was not immediately clear what steps beyond the order the state planned to take to make

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