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The rule of disallowing visitors to public buildings to utilize cell phones is a practice that is observed or enforced in many establishments, seemingly for the sake of convention or because it is an atypical policy. Unless the establishment is a hospital, where telephone waves could interfere with the functioning of medical equipment, or the reading area of a library, where silence is reasonably expected, there are really few grounds on which this rule is merited.

Telephone conversations do not vary much in tone from conversations between visitors in a public waiting area. So observing the no cell phone use policy would justify, in most instances, asking all visitors to an establishment to be quiet or not speak to other visitors, which, of course, would be absurd or unreasonable.

Cell phone use should be permitted in public buildings, particularly where relevant to one’s visit. For example, the visitor needs to call and acquire demographic or other information from a family member or acquaintance that would save a trip or having to return to the establishment after personally acquiring the information at a later time.

Public establishments and/or their security/law enforcement officers should reserve the right to ask visitors to report to designated areas to continue calls that are irrelevant to their visits, or that might be deemed inappropriate or particularly disturbing, but should otherwise allow the speakers to have their say…

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