Businesses, people taking different approaches after most mask requirements lifted

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 11:33 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Take a walk through downtown Wilmington and you will see many businesses are no longer requiring masks indoors after Governor Roy Cooper lifted most mask requirements for everyone on Friday.

His announcement followed new mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said people who are fully vaccinated can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

It’s important to note that North Carolina took this guidance a step further. While NCDHHS still strongly recommends that unvaccinated people wear masks, the mandatory mask requirement was technically dropped for everyone, vaccinated or not, in most places. This potentially only adds to any confusion over the new mask guidelines.

The Italian Gourmet Market is following the new masking guidance, and one worker said customers have been all smiles — literally.

“Its more fun because you can see everybody smile,” said Irene Shea who works at The Italian Gourmet Market. “People are excited to take their mask off and people who have not had their shots are very honest about wearing them.”

Some businesses, however, are not ready to leave the masks behind just yet. Several store fronts downtown, such as the Edge of Urge and Marks of Distinction, have signs indicating they are still requiring face masks.

And it’s not just businesses who aren’t ready.

“We’d rather be on the side of safe than sorry,” said Mike Weidner, visiting from Ohio with his wife. “We’ve been wearing masks for — seems like 16 months now and we’re both vaccinated. We’ve been very careful but we just don’t want to ever get it.”

If you have eaten at a restaurant since Governor Cooper’s announcement — you may have noticed some waitstaffs are still masking up indoors.

“It’s like 50/50 I’d say — and I think it depends on ownership and management who is requiring you,” said Colby Fuller- Katz, a waiter visiting from Charlotte. “I think that restaurants who aren’t requiring it — the staff is definitely ripping them off which we’ve all wanted to do for a long long time.”

Fuller-Katz says although he is fully vaccinated, there still seems to be a gray area when it comes to masking up around others.

“There’s like this weird vague territory of like should I, should I not, do I have to, do I not have to, what do they think, what do I think of myself? It’s just — the judgement tables have turned.”

Several local restaurant owners, managers and workers said they are just happy they don’t have to police mask wearing indoors anymore, like when people get up to go to the bathroom.

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