Local businesses consider updating mask mandates following new state guidance | News


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(WGGB/WSHM) – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced that effective Tuesday, they are no longer recommending face coverings for those who are vaccinated.

Western Mass News wanted to know how this will impact you in the places you visit most every day, so we checked in with local businesses to see where their mask rules stand.

We started making calls, reaching out to businesses across western Massachusetts to see how they plan on handling this new guidance.

“We would probably lift it, but we would also put it to everyone’s own discretion,” said Marco Denardo, manager of Denardo’s Pizzeria. “I know when we lifted it before, we still had staff who continued to wear it.”

Denardo told Western Mass News that they currently require masks for staff and customers who are dining in, but that could change if East Longmeadow lifts its mask mandate.

Denardo told us that the feedback from customers has been pretty evenly split.

“Some customers are just really against the whole mask thing and others think we should have it a little bit further on,” he said.

East Longmeadow, Holyoke, Northampton, Springfield, and Easthampton all currently still require masks indoors, and their boards of health will assess the mandates in the coming weeks.

Over in Chicopee, the city has been leaving the decision up to businesses for the last couple of months, and the owner of Fruit Fair told us that that came as a relief.

“It gets very cumbersome to work in, and we do a lot of physical activity, all of our employees from cashiering in a fast pace to stocking shelves, and it feels like we don’t get enough oxygen,” Samaita Newell said.

She said that most of her customers have felt comfortable removing the mask.

“More and more people are actually dropping it and they are vaccinated,” she told us. “More and more people are getting the boosters.”

What about other stores, like Stop & Shop? Officials there told us, quote:

In the state of Massachusetts, Stop & Shop will continue to abide by all local mask mandates that remain in place. In cities and towns where mask mandates have been lifted, Stop & Shop will follow CDC guidance as we have throughout the pandemic and strongly encourage all associates, customers and vendors to wear a mask while inside our stores, regardless of vaccination status.

How about gyms? Western Mass News is working to get you those answers.

Best Fitness in Springfield told us that they already have a rule in place that masks are optional inside the facility.

Snap Fitness told us that masks are optional at most of their locations, but in cities where a mandate is still in effect, like Holyoke, they are required inside.

We wanted to know if you will have to remain masked up at the movie theater.

Cinemark told us in a statement:

In accordance with the CDC recommendation, face masks are required for non-vaccinated guests and strongly encouraged for all other guests, except where required by local mandates.

Overall, many said that they think it should be left up to personal preference.

“Everyone knows their own health and knows their limits and what they should and shouldn’t be doing,” Denardo said.

The DPH said that masks are still required across the state on public transportation, in healthcare facilities, and at correctional facilities.

This announcement is still brand new, so communities will be making decisions in the coming weeks about their COVID guidelines. We will continue to keep you updated on the latest developments.

Copyright 2022. Western Mass News (WGGB/WSHM). All rights reserved.

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