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Newport UPS Store loses franchise over mask violations

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 5:44 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 19, 2021 at 4:55 AM EST
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NEWPORT, Vt. (WCAX) - Residents in Newport City do not have a UPS store as of Thursday afternoon. While the store is still there, the company pulled its franchise deal with them because they say they violated its uniform policy, which includes wearing masks.

This comes after the UPS store in Newport put up a sign that states despite the governor’s mask-up order, employees aren’t wearing them and they’re optional for customers. Store officials declined to comment on the policy but pointed out their continued customer support.

UPS Store sign in Newport
UPS Store sign in Newport(WCAX)

“I support it. I don’t think I feel unsafe at all not wearing a mask. I feel safer actually,” said Margie Catuogno of Newport.

“I feel like there is nothing to be upset about, it just is what it is. When you are dealing with them you are far enough away from them. The store is pretty big, wide and open,” said Heidi Pheria of Glover.

People with and without masks traveled in and out of the store on Thursday. “This is a free country and people should have the right to decide,” Catuogno said.

But not everyone is in support of the store’s no mask policy. “It’s a safety thing. It’s not a political thing. I think it should be adhered to,” Karen Rinner of Newport.

Newport Police Chief Travis Bingham says his department has a good relationship with the community but they have been called several times this week for compliance checks at the UPS store. “For these kinds of orders that are put out by the governor, our sole job is the education piece of this. Any enforcement action, whether that’s civil or criminal, is done through the attorney general’s office,” Bingham said.

And Attorney General T.J. Donovan says he is aware of the issue. His office sent two cease and desist letters -- one in November and the other on Wednesday.

“Look, Vermonters are law-abiding good people, but at some point in time, we are going to have to take action. We have done it before, we are prepared to do it here, and if there is not compliance that’s where we are going to end up,” he said.

Donovan says Vermonters have been following the order and that’s the reason for success and the light at the end of the tunnel.

“People have to follow the governor’s order, that’s why we have done so well in Vermont in terms of keeping everyone healthy -- because people have done the right thing. I hope this business owner does the right thing,” he said.

A corporate spokesperson from The UPS Store issued a statement late Thursday saying they have terminated their relationship with the Newport outlet. “We take customer safety very seriously and made repeated attempts to gain compliance from this franchise owner. However, those attempts were ignored and as a result, we have terminated our relationship with this franchise owner, effective close of business Thursday, February 18.”

They say the store will no longer be able to process any new shipments, accept any returns. or process any inbound packages as a UPS Store.

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