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Downtown businesses on mask mandate: ‘We’re not asking, we require it.’

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 2:46 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County’s health board voted Tuesday to keep the indoor public mask mandate in place for the foreseeable future.

Anyone two and older, regardless of whether they are vaccinated for COVID-19, must wear a mask indoors in places where the public is invited. However, enforcing the mandate is not always easy. At Indigo Sol, most interactions with customers are positive but there are the select few who need gentle reminders to put on a mask.

“They just left,” said Indigo Sol manager Crystyle Turner, describing a scene her staff members have seen play out repeatedly. “They were screaming. They were telling others not to come in here because you have to wear a mask and stuff like that. Other families that come in after them are just like ‘okay, we know that we have to wear them.’”

Despite those objections to the requirement, Turner hasn’t seen a drop in business at all.

“I mean, it really hasn’t affected much,” said Turner. “There’s just those few people who get upset when we ask them to wear them, so they’re just like ‘oh, we’ll go somewhere else then.’”

Although the public is allowed in their place of business, it’s still private property. For the most part, customers seem to be on board with the requirement, but there are cases of people refusing to wear a mask for medical purposes or personal preference.

Front Street Brewery has dealt with similar customers that refuse to wear a face covering, but the staff there isn’t playing around. Their motto: mask up or get out.

“We’re requiring that guests wear masks as they’re walking through the facility and encourage them to do so while they’re ordering their meals,” said Ellie Craig, the brewery’s marketing manager.

The popular microbrewery will allow people with medical exemptions to eat outside if they’d like, but refusing a mask indoors simply isn’t going to fly.

“This is our livelihood. This is our staff’s livelihood,” said Craig. “We’re going to do whatever we can to keep our doors open for as long as we possibly can. If they don’t want to comply, then they don’t comply and they can leave... We’re not the restaurant for them.”

There are some exceptions for wearing face masks: those ages two and under, actively eating or drinking, or with a medical restriction, just to name a few. You can read the health rule including its exemptions here.