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A little virus spreading with your latte?

A barista serves up a drink in the drive through lane at a Starbucks Coffee store in south Seattle, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Starbucks saw faster-than-expected recovery in the U.S. and China in its fiscal fourth quarter. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A barista serves up a drink in the drive through lane at a Starbucks Coffee store in south Seattle, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Starbucks saw faster-than-expected recovery in the U.S. and China in its fiscal fourth quarter. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (Ted S. Warren/AP)

With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing in Maryland and nationwide, I’m concerned that internet cafes like Starbucks allow customers not wearing masks to conduct small indoor meetings and to transact business via computer and phone (“Biden’s call for a ‘national mask mandate’ gains traction in public health circles,” Oct. 29). The only requirement is to wear a mask when standing and to make a small purchase. Since libraries and other indoor gathering spots are closed, many people are looking for a place to meet or work and talk online. They choose an internet cafe. Purchasing a beverage allows the customer to sit down, meet friends, conduct work, etc., for an unlimited time period. In my experience, Starbucks does not even require wearing a mask when seated.

I understand that seated restaurant customers need to remove their masks to eat. And fine dining meals take longer than eating fast food or drinking a cup of coffee. However, I feel that Maryland’s exception to requiring wearing a mask in indoor public places, needed to allow restaurants to operate, should be limited. This exception to wearing a mask shouldn’t be interpreted to allow people who aren’t wearing masks to hold small meetings or work online when they purchase a cup of coffee. And it would be nice if more Starbucks could set up spaced outdoor seating and possibly tents for people to interact. Controlling the spread of the virus should come first, even if some people are inconvenienced.

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Many fast food places have limitations on the amount of time one may stay inside when they purchase a meal. Twenty minutes comes to mind. I would like to see internet cafes do the same, especially when people aren’t wearing a mask.

Jeffrey H. Marks, Baltimore

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