As mask mandates lift, retail workers again feel vulnerable.

By Sapna Maheshwari

Many retail and fast-food workers in states like Mississippi and Texas, where governments have removed mask mandates before a majority of people have been vaccinated and while troubling new variants of the coronavirus are appearing, are feeling a heightened anxiety.

It feels like a return to the early days of the pandemic, when businesses said customers must wear masks but there was no legal requirement and numerous shoppers refused. Many workers say that their stores do not enforce the requirement, and that if they approach customers, they risk verbal or physical altercations.

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