Local businesses reevaluate mask requirements after new CDC masking guidance

Posted at 10:04 AM, May 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-15 11:04:33-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The CDC made the announcement Thursday – vaccinated Americans don't have to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor places. While the decision is a sigh of relief, local businesses are left scrambling to determine if they should continue enforcing masks.

"This is exciting news and it further reflects the fact that the vaccine is highly effective in preventing COVID-19 illness," UNMC infectious disease expert Dr. Mark Rupp said. “Issues that need to be considered is that there's no easy way to differentiate people who have been vaccinated from those folks who have chosen not to be vaccinated.”

Now local businesses have to decide whether or not to change their own mask requirements.

"I think each individual business will make their own decision and that's the beauty of this country, that we can make our own decision," said Patty Dudziak, owner of coffee shop Village Grinder.

The new CDC guidance is for vaccinated individuals only, making it hard for businesses to determine how to move forward.

"I don't think we're in the position of trying to decipher if someone's vaccinated or not or bringing cards in, so for the time being we're definitely still going to require masks," said Nick Huff, owner of local goods store Made in Omaha.

The Omaha mask mandate expires May 25 and city council says they don't plan on extending or cutting the mandate short.

"The city council could rescind the ordinance, however, it would require three readings, including a public hearing, the same process required to pass an ordinance....the process to rescind, would delay the expiration into June, so it will end on May 25," a city official said in a statement.

But even when that day comes, some businesses may still enforce mask mandates as they figure out the safest way to move forward.

"We're just trying to look out for the health and safety of our customers and employees," Huff said.

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