How are business owners feeling about the loosening of mask requirements? Some are relieved and ready to get back to life in the new normal.
On Saturday, May 15, the county officially adopted the state’s public health order, including its requirements about masks and face coverings. Per the order, people can now go maskless in most public settings. Fully vaccinated people can go maskless in any public setting, unless a business or organization requires it. The order recommends unvaccinated people still wear masks in public settings, but it is no longer required.
Now that a week has passed, most business owners are fully adopting the new rule and not requiring masks inside their establishments.
When Red Mountain Grill manager Adam Still heard the news that the county was loosening its restrictions, he said the staff was ready to move forward, yet felt hesitant to take the first step.
“I’d say initially everybody was quite pleased with it, just to be able to take the masks off for breathability’s sake now that it’s getting warmer,” Still said. “Slightly hesitant, kind of everyone felt naked the first couple days for sure. You walk up to somebody, you’re so habitualized to wear it.”
Still said over 50% of the staff at Red Mountain Grill in Dillon is vaccinated and the business felt like it was a good move to fall in line with the county’s order. The restaurant is not requiring employees or customers to wear masks, but it’s supportive of those that still do. Still said about 50% of customers come in wearing masks and noted that this might be because they’re either more comfortable with it on or not sure what the rules are.
In all, Still said most of the customers have been pleased about the new measure.
“Overall, the guests’ reaction, they’re pretty happy for us,” Still said. “(They say,) ‘Hey, it’s great to see your face again,’ and the kind of stuff. (They) had really no negative feedback on it. Everyone’s been pretty positive about it.”
Lori Maphies, co-owner of Marigolds Farmhouse Funk & Junk in Breckenridge, also said seeing patrons’ faces again has made for a more friendly customer experience.
“I just feel like more people are out and ready to get back into the swing of things,” Maphies said. “Another thing I’ve noticed, just today, is people are so much more friendly when you can see their smile. The interaction with the customers has just been so much lighter and enjoyable. Very positive.”
Maphies said she was hesitant to make a move right away when she first heard the news about the loosening mask restrictions. Throughout the pandemic, Maphies said she and her staff have been adamant about making sure customers are wearing their masks. When news broke that these were no longer required in most settings, Maphies said she still took a few days before working the measure into her own operations.
“We just started, in our store, two days ago not wearing them and half of my customers still have them on, so I feel like it’s just everybody’s choice,” Maphies said. “My initial reaction was still nervous at the same time just because that’s how we’ve felt the last year. But I feel very confident moving forward since we have been vaccinated. We just kind of have to trust the science.”
Maphies said she plans to keep some measures in place, such as offering hand sanitizer at the door and asking employees to stay home if they feel sick. Otherwise, the business is operating as normal.
While establishments like Red Mountain Grill and Marigolds Farmhouse Funk & Junk are operating close to normal, others like the Breckenridge Hair Salon are still taking things slow.
Melanie Gallegos, owner of the salon, said that masks are also not required inside her business, but she’s still taking extra precautions to put customers’ safety first. Before the virus, Gallegos said her small salon could operate six of its 11 stations without feeling crammed. Right now, Gallegos said she’s operating four stations just to put extra space between clients.
However, other measures have been removed. Gallegos said the barriers separating stations have been taken down and she has a few more staff members working daily. In general, she’s glad that the new measure about masks gives people a choice.
“Most people now are vaccinated and the vaccinated people were starting to have a lot of problems wearing the mask in the salon because they were vaccinated,” Gallegos said. “So I feel this gives them the opportunity to take it off if they would like, and (we don’t) get in trouble for disobeying the law because now it is okay for them not to wear it.”
Gallegos said she understood why some people felt slow to adopt these new rules but that she thinks with time, more people will become comfortable with the idea of taking their masks off.
“We have to get used to a new normal again,” Gallegos said. “Now everybody feels all weird without their mask. … I do not want to make those people who want to wear it feel uncomfortable and I don’t want to make the people that don’t want to wear it uncomfortable. From a business point of view, we are just not judging. If you want to wear it or don’t want to wear it, that’s completely up to you.”