Mask on, Mask off... Mask on
Businesses requiring customers to wear masks indoors once more following new mandates
Last updated 8/20/2021 at 10:39am
Effective on Thursday, Aug. 12, Snohomish County will be mandating mask-wearing for everyone 5 or older within public indoor spaces. Local businesses that had started celebrating the lifting of COVID restrictions earlier this summer are falling back into similar rhythms of requiring customers to wear masks once more.
"Nothing has changed for us since we've been requiring masks in City Hall for months now," said Scott Harder, the City's recently appointed Communications and Marketing coordinator. "We've been masking indoors, and have been requiring the public to wear masks when visiting."
The directive does not apply to non-public spaces, such as offices and other places with limited access. However, City Hall has enforced strict mask regulations for visitors since its reopening to the public in July.
"We're going to continue doing what we're doing," Harder said.
"We're also going to be advising folks to fall back to following the guidelines that I'm sure we all know so well by now. Rather than saying business as usual, I guess you could say we will be masking as usual."
The directive will remain in effect until the Snohomish Health District confirms that COVID-19 rates have declined and that risks of transmission are reduced.
"I feel like the City of Mill Creek has done rather well in the midst of all of this, so I don't foresee any backlash from the community," Harder said. "People typically want to do the right thing here, and we all want to get through this by pitching in to do the right thing."
According to Harder, the City is working to strategize and provide the community better resources and guidance to navigate through the anticipated surge of COVID cases and regulations.
"We're a new staff here, and we're trying to be as transparent as possible and have some good communication with the community, and we really want to help out and give residents resources and guidance," he said. "We definitely want to walk the talk."
The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is highly transmissible and can even infect those who are vaccinated.
Some businesses have already had a head start in terms of masking regulations and advising customers to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.
Central Market in Mill Creek has posted several signs requiring unvaccinated customers to wear masks while recommending everyone else do the same.
Masks are available for free by the entrance along with hand sanitizing stations situated throughout the store.
Approximately 54% of Snohomish County's population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the health district. While vaccinations can help slow the spread and mutation of the virus, it is not 100% effective in protecting both the unvaccinated and vaccinated.
Citizens with mixed opinions on mask-wearing are less than thrilled with the idea of revisiting a mask mandate.
"I definitely think that we have a mixed crowd in the town center," said Erica Lane, manager of Visible Coffee Roasters. "Some people really want and appreciate this regulation, while others hate it and will stop coming because of it."
Visible Coffee Roasters (formerly The Spotted Cow) has been open to maskless customers since earlier this summer, but with regulations starting to ramp up, signs are now posted on doors, tables, and on social media letting customers know that masks are required indoors once more.
"This is just the regulations that we have to follow in order not to get shut down by the government," Lane said.
According to her, there is an expectation of losing a bit of business, but keeping everyone safe is a higher priority.
"We know it's a hassle and it's uncomfortable, but this is what we have to do in order to keep our business running and keep everyone safe," she said.