Whiskey business

Best Buy employees are now free to go without masks and other business news

Best Buy drops mask requirement for staff

Most Best Buy employees in stores, service centers and other facilities are no longer required to wear masks.

Starting Friday, Best Buy employees at all Best Buy locations, including stores, service centers and supply chain facilities, no longer have to wear face coverings.

However, unvaccinated employees in designated locations with a “high” CDC COVID-19 community level are still required to wear masks, the company said. All employees are permitted and encouraged to continue wearing masks if preferred.

Masks have been required of Best Buy employees and recommended to customers in recent months as the company, like other retailers, continues to adjust policies based on evolving guidance from health officials and city ​​mandates.

US whiskey exports rebound

An industry group says US whiskey exports have started to rebound, but distillers have yet to fully recover.

Spirits exports have been hit by tariffs and the pandemic. Exports of bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey rose 15% last year to $975 million. This is according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Last year’s total was still down 18% from the all-time high of around $1.2 billion in 2018. A deal was reached last year to lift retaliatory tariffs that l European Union has imposed on American spirits. The council says Tennessee and Kentucky are the nation’s top spirits exporters.

Apple investors want a civil rights audit

Apple shareholders have approved a proposal urging the iPhone maker to submit to an independent audit assessing its treatment of women and minorities.

The shareholder vote delivered a rare rebuke to a management team running the world’s most valuable company. The measure passed at Apple’s annual meeting on Friday is non-binding, so the company is not bound to adopt the recommendation.

But denying the wishes of its shareholders would put Apple in an uncomfortable position, especially since the company has long presented itself as a champion of civil rights. Apple had argued that an audit was unnecessary, pointing to its recent progress on gender and racial equity.

Russia claims ‘fake news’ and blocks Facebook and Twitter

DUSSELDORF, Germany — Russian President Vladimir Putin has stepped up a crackdown on media outlets and individuals who don’t toe the Kremlin line on the war in Ukraine. He signed into law a bill that criminalizes the intentional dissemination of what Moscow considers “false” reports.

Russia has also blocked Facebook and Twitter. The moves follow blockages imposed on the BBC, the US government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Latvian website Meduza.

The sweeping action against foreign media that publish information in Russian aims to establish even tighter controls on the information domestic audiences see about the invasion of Ukraine.

Visa to lower fees for small merchants

Visa announces it will lower its credit card “swipe” fees for online and in-store transactions for small businesses by 10% starting in April.

The move comes as the digital payments industry becomes increasingly competitive. Visa, one of the world’s largest payment companies, is facing new forms of competition, particularly from technology companies that have launched alternative payment methods that bypass the traditional Visa and Mastercard networks.

Visa currently charges 1.5% to 2.4% consumer credit card interchange rates. The 10% discount takes place in April.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner