BATAVIA — The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office said recently that it responded twice to Walmart, 4133 Veterans Memorial Dr., for complaints, primarily about customers not wearing facemasks.
The store has been cooperative, according to Sheriff William Sheron Jr.
“Through the complaint referral from New York State on PAUSE Enforcement Assistance” hotline, we have received about five complaints regarding Walmart in Batavia,” Sheron said. “We have responded to Walmart and spoken with managers there to inform them of the complaints and educate them on the guidelines and orders. The complaints have been primarily about the customers in the store not wearing masks.
“The education was about the executive orders (from Gov. Andrew Cuomo) and the store’s options and obligations,” he said.
Sheron said the two responses were for different types of complaints. There were no citations and Walmart was cooperative in their responses to us in trying to remediate the issues, he said.
“Walmart was receptive to the visits. The issue at hand in the first visit early on in the PAUSE was different from the subsequent visit regarding customers in the store,” Sheron said. He did not specify what the issue was in the first visit.
Walmart said in a statement Monday, “Maintaining customer and associate safety remains our top priority. We encourage customers to be especially mindful of one another during this unprecedented time and adhere to recommendations and decisions made by local officials regarding the use of protective facial coverings while in public spaces.”
A Walmart spokesman Monday said its stores comply with any local mandates and that there are posted signs at the entrances to remind people of the importance of wearing masks. Customers have been required to wear masks since April.
“Also regarding social distancing, we have been limiting the number of customers in our stores since April, and installed floor decals several months ago,” the spokesman said.
Paul Pettit, public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, said the complaints health departments receive are referred to the New York on PAUSE Enforcement Assistance Task Force. People can file a formal complaint by calling 1-833-789-0470 or completing the form online.
“All complaints into this system go to law enforcement in Genesee County,” he said. “If they are related to a health department-regulated facility, we would respond to the facility. The appropriate law enforcement agency (sheriff, city, village police department) responds to all other complaints.”
Pettit noted that business operators and building owners are responsible for enforcing Executive Order 202.17. The order requires anyone over age 2 and able to medically tolerate a face-covering, to cover his or her nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place.