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Utah Businesses Face Difficult Decision On Mask Requirements

BOUNTIFUL, Utah — Now that the statewide mask mandate has ended, many businesses have been left in a tight spot — should they continue to require masks? Either way, store owners found they can’t make everyone happy.

Many local stores along Bountiful Main Street went out of business after the pandemic hit and store owners have had to keep that in mind when deciding whether to require masks. 

Gary Wight has measured suits and tuxes at his shop, Latter Day Suits & Formal Affair, for nearly 40 years. Now, he’s one of only a few businesses left on his block.

“Last April, I did $900 worth of business for the whole month. I got scared,” said Wight.

Wight has a decision to make should he continue to require masks or not? Either way, he risks upsetting customers.

“I’m going to ask everyone to wear a mask until we can see that we’re over the hill,” said Wight.

Just down the street, Pat’s Dancewear will also require masks in the store, at least until all employees are vaccinated and maybe longer.

“Our business includes fitting shoes, which requires close contact. It requires touching people. You’re face-to-face a lot and so we just don’t feel like that’s a safe atmosphere at this point,” said owner Pat Troseth.

Troseth said they haven’t had many issues, and most customers have been very kind about the mask requirement, but not all.

“We did get some email replies that thought we were wrong and that they would never shop here again,” said Troseth. “One came back and said wonderful, they liked it, but the others were very negative.”

“We’ve really struggled with this. It was something we put a lot of thought into,” said Angie Werrett, owner of Classy Chassis, a beauty supply store a few doors down.

After interviewing their customers, Classy Chassis decided to make masks optional.

Some shoppers said they appreciated the choice.

“When I didn’t see the sign saying masks are required or face coverings are required, I actually went ‘yes, I don’t have to wear a mask.’ So I was really grateful that I had that option,” said Katherine Atkinson.

No matter what these businesses choose, they hope their customers will understand and keep coming back after what’s been a very difficult year.

“I’m just happy to be here. I’m happy to still be in business,” said Wight.

“It’s been really rough, but I just hope at some point, people remember why they fell in love with Bountiful and come back,” said Werrett. “I’m getting teary-eyed, but yeah, we’re just hoping, hoping it comes back.”

Governor Spencer Cox still urged people to wear masks, but under the new law that went into effect on Saturday, the state won’t tell businesses whether to require them or not.

Coronavirus Resources

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Click here to sign up for a vaccine and here to see how Utah’s vaccine rollout is progressing.

The latest COVID-19 stories from KSL can be found here.

How do I prevent it?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

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