How Stew Leonard's is promoting mask mandates in Norwalk, Danbury stores

In a Facebook video, Stew Leonard Jr. explains the renewed mask requirements in his Norwalk and Danbury stores.

In a Facebook video, Stew Leonard Jr. explains the renewed mask requirements in his Norwalk and Danbury stores.

Facebook video

In the past few days, Norwalk and Danbury joined a growing list of Connecticut municipalities now requiring masks in all indoor public spaces — including businesses — regardless of vaccination status.

After lifting mask policies for customers in May, Stew Leonard’s President and CEO Stew Leonard Jr. said his team began thinking last week of how to handle making it a requirement again.

“Our customers that are double vaccinated are used to coming into Stew Leonard’s with no masks, and we said, ‘Now we got to roll back that whole thing and require that they wear masks,’” he said in an interview Sunday. “How are we going to handle a customer that adamantly doesn't want to put a mask on?”

In preparation for the changes at his Norwalk store, which took effect Friday, and then on Sunday at his Danbury location, Leonard Jr. addressed the situation with customers in a Facebook video.

“It’s a good precaution. They’ve noticed the positives in the city have gone up, and they are taking extra precaution,” he said in the video shot Thursday in the Norwalk store. “So please, when you come into Stew Leonard’s, when you come walking into Stew’s, we would really appreciate it if you wear your mask.”

Leonard Jr. said they were concerned about how customers would react. But by Saturday morning, they were pleased to see Norwalk customers were complying with the mandate.

“We were thrilled how cooperative and how respectful they are to their neighbors and community,” he said Sunday. “We gave out 500 masks on Friday, and we gave out 1,000 masks on Saturday. I just met a customer yesterday that came up from Chicago, and he didn’t know we had a mask mandate. When he walked in, our security guy told him we had a mask mandate, and he had to wear one, and he had no problem with that at all.”

Leonard Jr. said they haven’t yet encountered anyone who has not been willing to wear a mask.

“I’m hoping we won’t, but if we do, we are just going to have to play it by ear,” he said.