Airlines are being too heavy-handed when they enforce COVID-19 mask policies for families with toddlers, says an industry expert

flight attendant mask covid
The pandemic has led to significant changes to flying rules and regulations.

  • Many families with children have been removed or asked to leave flights over mask rules.
  • A family who flew on Southwest said their son struggled with his mask but the airline didn’t care.
  • An industry expert said airlines should use common sense over mask policies for children.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Flying with young children can be a fraught experience at the best of times but it’s even harder during a pandemic.

Some passengers say airlines are not treating them fairly. Ryan Whitney Harris said this was the case when her husband, their 7-year-old daughter, and 3-year-old son traveled from Los Angeles to Nashville, Tennessee, on June 6.

She said she was in tears after being apprehended by Southwest Airlines‘ flight attendants because her toddler could not keep his face mask on.

“They never left us alone. The flight attendants were rude and had no care,” she told Insider.

She went to great efforts to try and get her son to keep his mask on “while he screamed and kicked and cried,” she added.

According to Harris, the family’s every action was scrutinized. In one instance, Harris said she handed her son a bag of sweets so he would just eat and they would be left alone by the airline crew. But she said they never were.

“Your son needs his mask on in between bites,” Harris recalled a flight attendant telling her. “I kept my mouth shut the whole time because I was afraid we would be kicked off the flight. Since they said if he didn’t wear the mask, we would.”

Harris said she couldn’t accompany her son to the bathroom either. “They would not allow me to stand with my young child at the bathroom at three years old,” Harris said. “He was so scared.”

Southwest did not reply to multiple requests for comment by Insider.

Harris complained to the airline and in an emailed response, which Insider has viewed, apologized for her experience. “Crew should not only be consistent but be compassionate. Ultimately, I’m sorry if we missed a chance to be of better service to your family,” it said.

Federal regulations state that those who do not comply with mask mandates will be denied travel. But are airlines being heavy-handed when it comes to small children?

Charles Leocha, president and co-founder of the Washington, D.C., consumer advocacy group Travelers Unite, certainly thinks so.

“Airlines that insist on having 2- and 3-year-old children wear masks at all times will always face problems,” he said. “Treating a 2-year-old like a 30-year-old is foolish and unnatural.”

In April, a family was ordered to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after their 2-year-old could not keep his mask on.

Michelle Harvey’s, the boy’s mother, told Fox 7 that she had got him to practise wearing a mask before the flight, but he threw it off, she told the outlet.

When the family boarded, her son again threw off the mask. The Harvey’s were subsequently kicked off the plane, according to the report.

Several similar cases involving Southwest and other airlines, made headlines through the summer.

In August, a mother said that a flight attendant told her to glue a mask to her toddler’s face, according to reports. She said she has since received an apology.

Some people have reported much more positive experiences while traveling with children. Lauren Hales, her partner, her 2-year-old, and 3-month-old traveled from London to Portugal on British Airways in June. “We found flying smooth, safe, and surprisingly enjoyable,” she told Insider.

Hales said only adults were required to wear face masks. The UK has mask regulations that may differ from other countries.

“I was really nervous to fly and travel in the midst of a pandemic but it was the staff on the flight who made us all feel comfortable and at ease.”

To reduce the chance of a dispute, Leocha suggested that before flying, “parents should help younger children practice wearing masks so kids are comfortable wearing them during flight.”

But, he said, the responsibility also falls on airlines, which “should allow common sense to prevail.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

A man urinated on the counter of a Dairy Queen restaurant in Canada after being asked to wear a mask, reports say

dairy queen
A Dairy Queen branch.

A man in Canada was asked to wear a face mask by staff at a Dairy Queen when he got agitated and urinated on the restaurant’s counter, according to reports.

CTV News first reported the story. The incident reportedly occurred on Saturday night at a branch on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. A video of the incident was posted to Facebook.

In the video, the man can be heard arguing with staff over the restaurant’s mask policy. “You do not have a brain” the man shouted, who has not yet been identified, at Dairy Queen servers behind the counter.

A worker asked him to follow the rules, telling him he couldn’t be served unless he wore a mask.

“What are the rules?” the man responded, before saying: “BC policy says you have to observe exemptions.”

The staff member replied: “Sorry, I don’t want to argue with you, we have customers standing behind you, we want to serve them.”

Following this conversation, the man swore and appeared to unzipped his trousers and relieve himself. Staff can be heard screeching in horror as they witness the scene.

“This is the first incident of this nature,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt Chris Manseau told CTV. He added: “I think people should just wear their masks and be safe and be polite.”

As yet, no arrest has been made but police are asking anyone with video of the incident to share it with investigators.

Insider has reached out to Dairy Queen for comment.

Enforcing mask-related policies has led to many headaches for restaurant and other retail staff around the world, recently.

Desi Caswell, a former server and host at Capitol Hill Italian restaurant Spinasse, told the Seattle Times that working in a pandemic became too stressful. “I had adult males yell at me because they didn’t want to wear a mask or because our policies were too harsh,” she said.

In another case, an Indiana woman was refused entry by staff at Krispy Kreme and Sephora for not wearing a mask.

She told Insider’s Kevin Shalvey she decided to sue the retailers because she suffered from asthma and felt discriminated against.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A psychiatrist explains how constant flip-flops on return-to-office plans, mask guidance, and vaccine mandates are affecting our mental health

covid art exhibition
  • Return-to-office plans, mask policies, and vaccine mandates are in nearly constant flux right now.
  • Employers are postponing their return plans and flip-flopping on mask and vaccine mandates.
  • Insider spoke with a psychiatrist to see how these constant changes are affecting our mental health.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It’s no secret that the pandemic has wrought havoc on our mental health. From social isolation to grieving loved ones lost to COVID-19, many people have struggled with their mental well-being over the past year and a half.

“Already, there was an unmet need in terms of getting people access to the kinds of behavioral health care that they need,” psychiatrist Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi told Insider. “But now with the ongoing pandemic, and the remaining unanswered questions, it further worsened the kinds of mental health challenges that people are dealing with.”

Benders-Hadi is the medical director of behavioral health for telemedicine company Doctor on Demand. She says the company’s large employer clients saw a 325% increase in behavioral health visits last year.

“There’s been a significant uptick in symptoms of depression, of anxiety, of PTSD,” she said.

One overarching issue affecting many people is the constant change the pandemic has brought. Companies are flip-flopping on their plans and expectations for employees to work from home or return to the office. Businesses and governments have gone back and forth on mask guidance. Employers are still figuring out whether or not to require workers get vaccinated.

These types of changes, and the uncertainty that accompanies them, force people into being in constant “on” mode, ready for anything.

“The best approach to managing change is preparation in advance, it’s sort of knowing what the change is going to be, it’s outlining a series of steps to help manage that change,” Benders-Hadi said. “The difficulty with the shifting decisions and shifting priorities that come with the advancement of the pandemic is that it takes away from that planning time. If you’re sort of constantly needing to rethink, to reprioritize, it can make it extremely difficult to actually get to the point of being productive and accomplishing what you need to do.”

One part of pandemic life that many people have found taxing is keeping work from spilling over into every other part of their lives, especially as remote work grew more prevalent and blurred work-life boundaries.

“When you lack that planning and preparation, it can make it really easy to not be able to do that anymore,” Benders-Hadi said. “Then, suddenly the individual doesn’t have enough time for self-care or is not spending time with family. That can lead to a lot of frustration as the easiest end of the spectrum but, at the worst end, it can lead to relationship issues, problems with communication, anger, or symptoms of depression or anxiety.”

Read more: Startup founders are quietly suffering with increased mental health issues since the start of the pandemic and fear being stigmatized

Benders-Hadi’s team has noticed the pandemic has been particularly harmful to certain specific populations in particular – such as healthcare workers, essential workers, and women. Now, as the Delta variant casts a long shadow over school reopenings, returns to the workplace, and other developments, many people are facing a new wave of stressors.

“There’s so many different challenges, so many different stressors that people are dealing with,” Benders-Hadi said. “And there’s a lot of re-entry anxiety.”

One way people can take better care of their mental health now is to come to terms with these stressors.

“It’s important to level-set, to acknowledge that stress in the current time is expected, is a natural response to this very real threat,” she said. “Anxiety symptoms and changes in your breathing and your increased heart rate is your body’s way of warning you there’s a danger out there. To really normalize that, to level set it, to make sure people know that they’re not alone is a really important first step.”

“Then, take note of what those triggers are, what things you have control over versus things that you don’t have control over, and then really invest the time and energy into self-care to cope with those triggers when you find that you’re confronted with them.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Frontier Airlines passengers say they were treated like criminals because their toddler couldn’t keep his mask on while eating

Frontier Airlines Airbus A321
The flight was travelling to Austin, Texas.

  • A family reportedly left a Frontier Airlines flight over a mask dispute involving their child.
  • They accused Frontier of treating them like criminals when their toddler couldn’t keep his mask on.
  • The airline is issuing a refund for the family, according to KXAN.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A woman said she felt like she was treated as a criminal on a Frontier Airlines flight when her toddler couldn’t keep his mask on.

Rebecca Sylvia-Cramer, her 2-year-old son, 4-year-old daughter, and her mother were all set to fly from Denver to Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, local outlet KXAN reported.

Sylvia-Cramer, who had given her son a lollipop, said she was treated like a criminal because the child was unmasked while eating.

“I had one [mask] ready for both my kids, and I said, ‘He’s eating now.’ It’s my understanding that if kids are eating, they can take their masks off,” she told KXAN.

Frontier Airlines did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The news follows a similar incident in July, where a family said two Southwest Airlines flight attendants and a gate agent treated them like criminals when their toddler could not keep his mask on.

When the family feared police were being called to arrest them, they voluntarily stepped off the flight, according to KRON4. They vowed to never fly on Southwest Airlines again, the outlet reported.

In the Frontier incident, Sylvia-Cramer said her son was first approached by a flight attendant, who told him he needed to stop playing with the armrest.

There were no passengers in the row in front of her family nor the row behind, Sylvia-Cramer told KXAN.

She said that when she was told crew members were trying to decide whether her family should catch another flight, they voluntarily got off the plane.

According to KXAN, Sylvia-Cramer was in tears when she addressed the cabin crew. “I stood up, and I said, “I’m so sorry. I’m pregnant, and I have two toddlers, and I’m just doing the best I can,” she said.

The passenger said she believed in the value of face masks as they have kept her family safe. “My son has a kidney issue, and I am pregnant, so we can’t get sick,” she told the outlet.

KXAN reported that the airline is, however, issuing a refund for Sylvia-Cramer, who said she ended up driving from Denver to Austin.

Earlier this month, an unruly Frontier passenger was duct-taped to his seat. The airline said it supported the crew’s actions, as Insider’s Sinéad Baker reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Tesla is reportedly requiring masks at a battery factory in Nevada amid a threatened mask mandate from the state government

Workers at Tesla factory
Tesla will require employees in a Nevada plant to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

Tesla will require all employees in a Nevada battery-manufacturing plant to wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status due to the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend.

The company’s decision, which goes into effect Monday, came ahead of a potential mask mandate from the Nevada government for the county where Tesla’s factory is located if transmission rates continued to increase, according to The Journal.

As the Delta variant continues to circulate and case numbers across the country rise, other car-manufacturing rivals, including GM and Ford, as well as other tech companies, like Amazon, have instituted mask mandates for employees, even if they’re vaccinated.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was often outspoken, and at times defiant, in the face of coronavirus-related restrictions earlier in the pandemic. He called shelter-in-place orders “fascist” and filed a lawsuit against a California county that had shut down one of the company’s factories as part of the county’s social-distancing measures. In May of last year, he defied local orders and restarted production, tweeting that “if anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.” Some former Tesla employees in its Fremont, California, factory also claimed they were fired for staying home out of fear of contracting COVID-19.

Tesla did not immediately respond to The Wall Street Journal’s or Business Insider’s requests for comment.

Read the full story about Tesla’s masking requirements in The Wall Street Journal.

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Disneyland and other California theme parks just returned to full capacity – here’s what is changing

disneyland
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 19: Pedestrians walk near the entrance to Disneyland Resort on February 19, 2009 in Anaheim, California. With the worsening economy, declining attendance and reduced operating income, the Walt Disney Company announced that it plans to restructure its domestic theme-park operations, which will result in the layoff an unspecified number of employees in the coming weeks. Disneyland in Anaheim, California and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida will reportedly be consolidated into a single unit headed by Worldwide Operations President Al Weiss. Attendance at Disney theme parks in the US dropped 5 percent in the last quarter of 2008 compared to the previous year and in January, Disney offered buyout packages to 600 US executives.

  • California theme parks, sporting events, and concerts returned to 100% capacity on Tuesday.
  • The state health department added some regulations on vaccinations records and masking for theme parks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

California theme parks, including Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, returned to full capacity on Tuesday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom first announced the parks could return to full capacity in May as a part of his Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The previous 15% to 35% capacity limits lifted at the same time that the entire state fully reopened.

The parks will also no longer be required to maintain physical-distancing requirements on the sites.

The California Health Department added special regulations for venues such as theme parks, concerts, and sports arenas that could be classified as “mega-events” – indoor events with more than 5,000 people, and outdoor ones with over 10,000. The venues are required to provide masks for all customers, though attendees will not be required to wear them if they have been fully vaccinated.

Customers planning on attending indoor venues must either be able to verify that they are fully vaccinated or take a COVID-19 test with a negative result 72 hours prior to entering the venue. They are expected to bring their test results or send them prior to arriving at the event.

For outdoor events, the agency recommends that the venues require a vaccination record or COVID-19 test, but will not enforce it. If an individual at an outdoor event cannot verify that they have been vaccinated, it is recommended that the venue asks the individual to wear a mask.

The California Health Department said the new mandates will run through October 1, but will be reassessed on September 1.

Disneyland reopened for the first time since the pandemic started on April 30 at 25% capacity. Since then, fans have flocked to the theme park.

Fully reopening the park will allow Disney to begin recouping from the impact of the pandemic on one of its biggest revenue streams. Last year, the media giant lost nearly $5 billion due to park closures.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Disneyland and other California theme parks will return to full capacity in June – here’s what is changing

GettyImages 1232826025
  • On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced California would fully reopen on June 15.
  • Theme parks, sporting events, and concerts will be able to return to 100% capacity.
  • The state health department added some regulations on vaccinations records and masking for theme parks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

California theme parks, including Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, will return to full capacity on June 15.

The announcement was made on Friday as a part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The current 15% to 35% capacity limits will lift at the same time that the entire state fully reopens.

The parks will also no longer be required to maintain physical-distancing requirements on the sites.

The California Health Department added special regulations for venues such as theme parks, concerts, and sports arenas that could be classified as “mega-events” – indoor events with more than 5,000 people, and outdoor ones with over 10,000. The venues are required to provide masks for all customers, though attendees will not be required to wear them if they have been fully vaccinated.

Customers planning on attending indoor venues must either be able to verify that they are fully vaccinated or take a COVID-19 test with a negative result 72 hours prior to entering the venue. They are expected to bring their test results or send them prior to arriving at the event.

For outdoor events, the agency recommends that the venues require a vaccination record or COVID-19 test, but will not enforce it. If an individual at an outdoor event cannot verify that they have been vaccinated, it is recommended that the venue asks the individual to wear a mask.

The California Health Department said the new mandates will run through October 1, but will be reassessed on September 1.

Disneyland reopened for the first time since the pandemic started on April 30 at 25% capacity. Since then, fans have flocked to the theme park.

Fully reopening the park will allow Disney to begin recouping from the impact of the pandemic on one of its biggest revenue streams. Last year, the media giant lost nearly $5 billion due to park closures.

Read the original article on Business Insider

‘Beyond reprehensible’: GOP Rep. Peter Meijer slams Marjorie Taylor Greene’s comparison of mask mandates to the Holocaust

Peter Meijer
Representative Peter Meijer of Michigan.

  • Rep. Meijer rebuked Marjorie Taylor Greene’s comments comparing a mask policy to the Holocaust.
  • “Any comparisons to the Holocaust – it’s beyond reprehensible,” he said.
  • While all House Democrats have been vaccinated, just 45% of GOP members have reported receiving shots.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan on Sunday slammed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia for comparing the mask policy on the House floor to the Holocaust, calling her comments “beyond reprehensible.”

Meijer and Greene are both freshmen in the House Republican Caucus.

Greene has long had a penchant for attracting controversy, though, from stalking Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg before taking office to her constant needling of Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

In February, Greene lost her House committee assignments after endorsing violence against her political opponents on social media.

However, Greene’s most recent comments have drawn a new wave of criticism, including a rebuke from Meijer on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Any comparisons to the Holocaust – it’s beyond reprehensible,” he said. “I don’t even have words to describe how disappointing it is to see this hyperbolic speech that frankly amps up and plays into a lot of the anti-Semitism that we’ve been seeing in our society today, vicious attacks on the streets of New York and in Los Angeles that should be, and I do condemn that in the strongest terms. There’s no excuse for that.”

During an appearance on Real America’s Voice last Thursday, Greene likened the House mask policy to the Holocaust.

“You know, we can look back at a time in history when people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany,” she said. “And this is exactly the type of abuse that [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi is talking about.”

Jewish organizations immediately Greene’s comments.

“You can never compare health-related restrictions with yellow stars, gas chambers & other Nazi atrocities,” the American Jewish Congress tweeted. “Such comparisons demean the Holocaust & contaminate American political speech.”

Read more: Assassination threats, AOC potshots, and wolf teats: 2 wild weeks inside Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Georgia district as it flips a giant middle finger at DC

The group has asked that Greene retract her statements.

However, in an interview with Arizona 12 News reporter Bianca Buono, Greene doubled down on her comments.

“No one should be treated like a second-class citizen for saying ‘I don’t need to wear a mask,’ or saying that my medical records are my privacy based on my HIPAA rights, and so I stand by all of my statements,” Greene said. “I said nothing wrong.”

She added: “I think any rational Jewish person didn’t like what happened in Nazi Germany, and any rational Jewish person doesn’t like what’s happening with overbearing mask mandates and overbearing vaccine policies.”

Several Republicans have attempted to flout House regulations mandating masks on the floor, pointing to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that fully-vaccinated Americans can forgo mask-wearing in most places.

However, while all House Democrats have reported being vaccinated, just 45 percent of House Republicans indicated that they have received their shots, prompting the mandate to remain in place.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon will end its mask requirement for vaccinated employees in the US

amazon boxes packages workers employees
  • Starting May 24, Amazon will no longer require most vaccinated workers to wear masks at work.
  • Employees may be required to present a copy of their vaccine cards.
  • The move comes as big companies like Walmart and Target are dropping mask requirements.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On Monday May 24, Amazon will nix its mask requirement for fully vaccinated operations employees in the US. Exceptions will apply to employees in states or localities that retain mask mandates. In communications sent to workers, the e-commerce giant said that “all other COVID-19 Safety protocols remain the same at this time.”

The company sent out a push notification on its internal A to Z app that said maskless employees must be “14 or more days past your final dose of vaccine (the second dose in a 2-dose series for Pfizer or Moderna or single dose for Johnson & Johnson) and have a copy of your vaccine card.”

Amazon isn’t alone in changing its policies. Most states are relaxing their mask rules, and plenty of brick-and-mortar retailers, including Costco, are dropping mask requirements for shoppers, and Walmart has extended the policy to vaccinated employees as well.

In terms of rolling out its new policy, Amazon is asking workers to enter their vaccine information onto the A to Z app, as well as claim their $40 per dose benefit. Currently, the company also has listed a number of regions where masks will still be required, for the time being, regardless of employees’ vaccination status.

“Fully vaccinated associates will receive a green check mark screen in A to Z starting later this week,” the message to employees said. “Show your green check mark screen when you enter your site, typically at the temperature check location, and you can enter and work without wearing a face covering (where local law permits at your site – keep checking for regular updates in the coming days).

Amazon plans to distribute badge stickers of green check marks to vaccinated workers in early June. By mid-June, the company will ask its workers to upload images of their vaccine cards to A to Z.

“A HUGE thank you to everyone who has and continues to prioritize our COVID-19 safety measures,” the message to employees read. “The last 14 months have not always been easy, but your dedication continues to be appreciated by leaders and customers across the country. We cannot wait to see your smile.”

Are you an Amazon worker with a story to share? Email acain@insider.com.

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Costco will no longer require fully vaccinated customers to wear masks in stores, except in states that still have mask mandates

Costco
A Costco store in Mount Prospect, Illinois.

  • Costco announced that it will no longer require fully vaccinated customers to wear face masks.
  • However, the policy change only applies to locations without state or local mask mandates.
  • All customers will still be required to wear a mask in Costco’s healthcare departments.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Costco announced on Friday that it will no longer require masks for vaccinated customers in some states.

The company posted an updated mask policy on its website following Thursday’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks both outdoor and indoors, with some exceptions.

Costco said that in locations with no state or local mask requirements, customers who are fully vaccinated can enter the store without a face mask or shield. The retailer said it will not ask for proof of vaccination.

At stores in areas that still have state or local mask mandates, Costco said it will continue to require customers to wear a mask, with the exception of children under the age of 2.

At all locations, face coverings will still be required in the Pharmacy, Optical, and Hearing Aid departments, per CDC guidance.

“Costco continues to recommend that all members and guests, especially those who are at higher risk, wear a mask or shield,” the company said.

Costco tightened its policy around face coverings last November amid a surge in COVID cases nationwide. The company announced at the time that all shoppers, even those with medical conditions, would be required to cover their faces in its stores. When Costco instituted its mask policy in May 2020, it initially said people with conditions that prevented them from wearing a mask could go without a face covering. However, anti-maskers often used medical conditions as an excuse to go without face coverings in public places.

Read the original article on Business Insider