A local business owner says he will not follow CDC guidelines when it comes to keeping his customers safe.

Many Hudson Valley businesses are preparing for the reopening of the local economy by doing whatever they can to make customers feel safe and welcome in their stores. In light of the global pandemic that has already claimed over 15,000 lives in New York, simple precautions are becoming the norm. An extension of the "no shoes, no shirt, no service" policy now adds face masks and social distancing to the list of measures customers are expected to follow in order to keep each other safe. While most people welcome the added precautions, one store in Ulster County is apparently having none of it.

A sign on the door of NJA Auction in Saugerties proudly proclaims that the business is not following health guidelines. An image of the sign taken by a concerned customer made its way around social media over the weekend and its authenticity was confirmed by the business.

Facebook/Joan M. Zuckerman
Facebook/Joan M. Zuckerman

The sign says that masks are not mandatory and that social distancing is not being enforced inside the store. The message goes on to advise those who are uncomfortable with the policy not to enter.  Health experts have been consistent in explaining that these guidelines are in place not solely to protect customers who decide to go into stores, but also their family members and others who they come in contact with. Many people contract COVID-19 and show no symptoms, unknowingly passing it to others who may become seriously ill.

Many residents voiced their concerns about the NJA Auction's policy, questioning whether the second-hand store was actually considered an essential business and allowed to be open at all. The business owner responded to the outpouring of criticism in a long post on the store's Facebook page, saying "If you do not like how I do things & my views, I don’t care and will not lose any sleep. I do not force anybody to enter my business."

The statement went on to criticize the "Trump haters who sit home all day on Facebook like little trolls," accusing the media and politicians of lying and promoting a debunked theory that says those who socially distance are "destroying" their immune systems. The business owner also responded to nurses and essential employees who say the policy will make them less safe, claiming that ten nurses and two police officers were shopping in his store over the weekend.

The rant ended with a thank you to those who have given the business free publicity by sharing concern for its disregard of current CDC guidelines.

County executives and other local officials have urged business owners to follow guidelines to prevent the Hudson Valley from suffering a second wave. As more businesses begin to reopen, it's hoped that these measures will keep new cases low and let the economy continue to rebound. Many fear that individuals who don't take health precautions seriously will only cause a delay in being able to get the region back to business.

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