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Some businesses, etc. have signs at entrances stating that all people are encouraged to wear masks. Is this different than mandating that everyone is required to wear them in order to enter? In other words, is encouragement a recommendation but not a mandated requirement? Thanks!

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is encouragement a recommendation but not a mandated requirement?

According to the commonplace meaning of encouragement, yes, it is nothing more than a recommendation that does not seem to determine the business's willingness to entertain visitors/users and enter contracts with them. Also the legal meaning of encourage falls short of impressing a character of mandatory. See Black's Law Dictionary (defining encourage as "to give courage; [...] to raise confidence; to make confident; to help").

There are other terms the business could use if its intent were to make the use of masks mandatory in its premises: "masks are required", "users must at all times wear mask", and so forth.

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