COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and many people are still wondering when they should or shouldn’t wear a mask.

On Friday, the Columbus and Franklin County health departments lifted the indoor mask advisory issued in July now that the number of cases is starting to decline.

When it comes to COVID-19 guidelines, some people said there is so much back and forth that it’s hard to keep up.

Now that another indoor mask mandate has been lifted, health officials said the next phase will be about following your personal needs.

The mask question is something businesses have been dealing with for the last few months.

“It’s been sort of a challenge here and there,” said Chandler Sloan, manager of Homage in the Short North.

Sloan said the store has based employee mask policies on what the experts said.

“Last month, for a brief period of time, we did, as a company, just because Franklin County did reach high transmission levels,” he said. “Then once the CDC updated their guidelines, we followed suit.”

Down the street, Milly Pierson, manager of Fera, said its employees were not required to wear masks in July.

“It’s all base on choice,” she said.

Pierson said she decides whether or not to mask up based on her own comfort level and those around her.

“I’ll throw one on to make another customer feel comfortable, but it’s just based on whoever walks in,” she said.

OhioHealth infectious disease specialist Dr. Joseph Gastaldo said he supports the health departments’ decision to end the indoor mask advisory. 

“Our professionals in public health here in Franklin County, their job is to protect us and advise us, and if we do have high community levels, the mask advisory should be announced again,” he said.

Gastaldo said it is important to remember that COVID-19 isn’t going away. He said the next phase will be about learning to live with the virus.

“We have learned so much about the virus,” he said. “We have very powerful tools to protect us and protect those more vulnerable.”

Gastaldo said living with the virus means being prepared, having at-home tests, and being up to date with vaccines. The best way to keep track of proper guidelines for your area, he added, is to check the transmission rate on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website.