Small businesses grapple with decision: Should my customers wear a mask or not

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COLUMBUS (WCMH)–Small business owners are preparing to reopen, as Ohio Governor Mike DeWine changes course on the original requirement for customers to wear face masks while shopping.

DeWine described how the state would begin to reopen for commerce. He initially said all customers would be required to wear face masks. On Tuesday, however, he said he heard from some Ohioans who opposed the requirement, so he changed it to a recommendation.

“We’ve asked Ohioans to do a lot of different things,” DeWine said while addressing the issue on Wednesday. “We’ve recommended a lot of different things, but this one was one that a significant number of Ohioans felt the government telling them to put on a mask before going into a store was offensive.”

Employees, with some exceptions, are still required to wear masks.

Josh Quinn is the owner of Tigertree, in the Short North. He tells NBC4 that he has fulfilled online orders since closing his store front, several days before the state mandated it.

“We actually ended up closing down about ten days in advance of the statewide order because we didn’t feel comfortable at that point,” he said.

Quinn said he was glad DeWine required customers to wear masks, upon retail stores reopening, but he was disappointed to learn that it was changed to a recommendation.

“I frankly just can’t wrap my head around it asking small businesses in particular to be both the lawmaker and the enforcer, right now,” Quinn said. “We are so overwhelmed from the past two months of just trying to wade through the different loans that were available to us, figuring out how to pivot our operations, whether you’re a restaurant or a retailer to curbside and pick-up or completely re-thinking what you’re doing as a business just to stay afloat right now, and putting the onus on the owner and the employee to enforce the mask restriction is just too far.”

When Quinn reopens his store, he explained several new safety measures will be in place and he will require his customers to wear facial coverings.

“We can protect the customers from us,” Quinn said. “We will certainly enforce mask protocol, as I assume almost every business will, but I think that the protections are deserved the other way, as well.”

DeWine said he is hopeful the residents of Ohio will listen to his recommendation.

“The more all of us wear masks when we are in together, the better off that we are,” he said.

DeWine has authorized retail stores to reopen storefronts on May 12.

Coronavirus in Ohio resources:

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