Business

A Nantucket shop closed temporarily for a mental health break. Staff said a ‘boiling point’ was reached with customers over masks.

“Customers being disrespectful and inconsiderate was not going to be tolerated.”

Julia Cumes for the Boston Globe

A Nantucket business temporarily closed its doors this week for a “mental health break” after staff said a “boiling point” was reached with customers who disregarded the store’s COVID-19 mask requirement. 

ACK 4170, which sells jewelry, accessories, gifts, and art in the island’s bustling downtown, shared on Instagram they closed up shop on Wednesday but planned to reopen Thursday.

“Sad to say the boiling point was reached,” the post read. “A decision was made to put a sign outside of our front door asking people to wear a mask. We have had an outbreak of cases on the island and several businesses have closed due to positive covid cases. This decision was made for our safety and your safety.”

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Nantucket, which has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, including a cluster of breakthrough cases, issued a new mask advisory in mid-July, encouraging all residents and visitors to the island to wear a face covering when indoors in public locations where social distancing is not possible, regardless of their vaccination status.

“What people do not realize is how small of a community we have here on Nantucket and the size of our hospital,” ACK 4170 wrote in their message to the public on Thursday. “Is wearing your mask in our store for 10 minutes really the end of the world? Don’t you want to be safe and healthy? It all comes down to respect and decency for other human beings. Yesterday afternoon was the icing on the cake. Customers being disrespectful and inconsiderate was not going to be tolerated.”

On Wednesday, Nantucket reported 23 new cases, and the island has a 14-day percent positivity rate of 3.74%, according to the state Department of Public Health’s latest report.

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The town’s Board of Health is holding an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the potential for issuing a new mask order and occupancy restrictions in response to the rise in cases. 

Massachusetts as a whole has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since July 4, prompting state public health officials to also release an updated face covering advisory last week.

The Nantucket business isn’t the first shop in the state to close its doors due to the behavior of customers during the pandemic. In July, a Cape Cod restaurant shut down for a “day of kindness” after customers made staff cry. And last summer saw several ice cream shops in the state close or alter operations in response to staff being “abused” by customers over COVID-19 rules.

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