Stores, shoppers react to Ohio’s new mask mandate

Local News

COLUMBUS Oh. (WCMH) — Starting Monday, retail establishments will be under a new mask mandate with new enforcement measures.

But business owners and retail employees say the new measures sound like old news.

“It’s just become part of our daily routine,” said Heather Giffen, a retail associate at Global Gifts. Giffen keeps a close eye on the door of store, counting customers to limit capacity and making sure they’re wearing masks.

She say it’s not just business, it’s personal.

“For me, I’ve been living with my mother who is in danger of and at risk of getting COVID and complications,” she said. “It’s been great to have customer interaction, but in a way that’s safe and healthy and just to feel like something is normal.”

Starting Monday, every business in Ohio will have to monitor their doors like Giffen does.

Businesses must now have a sign about the mask requirement near their front entrance and they are now responsible for enforcement of that mandate.

A retail compliance unit will monitor for any violations of the mandate. If a business is found to not be in compliance, they’ll get a warning the first time.

The second time, they could be forced to close their doors for up to a day.

Columbus resident Peter Hill said he agrees with the practice of masking up, social distancing, and cleaning thoroughly, but the possibility of a shutdown for a maximum of 24 hours if a business is not compliant could be difficult for shops already struggling.

“There might be one person working in the store,” Hill said. “That’s all we can support from a labor standpoint. If that person has to be the police, cashier, and work the floors, if that person misses somebody and then they get fined for it, that’s really rough.”

The move was announced during Governor DeWine’s Wednesday night address to the state.

“For us, it was just a reiteration of what we’re already doing,” Giffen said.

Emily Weber of the Columbus Running Company feels the same.

“This reinstatement of the mandate probably is serving as a reminder more than anything else, especially as we roll into the holidays. Shopping for Christmas gifts.”

Weber says CRC has been on top of the pandemic since the very beginning.

“The owners at CRC really do a great job of making sure I feel safe, making sure customers feel safe. We’ve had a lot of great, increase cleaning measures,” she said.

During this most important time of the year for businesses, Weber hopes things improve quickly.

“The more people that follow those rules, the more people that stick with those mandates…hopefully, the better off we’re going to be,” she said.

Shopper Amy Welker said this weekend has alarmed her, and she can’t help but think of the people on the front lines battling the virus.

“I think that something has to be done to slow the spread,” Welker said. “I think to follow will be more hospitalizations and more deaths.”

Hill said as someone with medical issues, he has the option to take the mask off indoors, but he chooses not to.

“I have problems breathing,” he said. “I have to limit the time I’m in the mask. I’m gonna wear it because it’s that important. I can limit my shopping, I can do a half hour and then I gotta go out, get in my vehicle, and get my oxygen and then continue my day.”

Even if you’re not a believer in the mask mandate, they all ask you to think of your community.

“It’s not about you,” Hill said. “It’s about each other.”

Coronavirus in Ohio resources:

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