After what's felt like a decade in masks, within a few days, the CDC declared that fully-vaccinated people can stop wearing masks and socially distancing in most settings, with a few exceptions, and New York State adopted the guidance. One potential exception-local businesses and workplaces. The new-found freedom left business owners, who are responsible for both their vaccinated and unvaccinated clients' safety, grappling with a not-so-easy decision.
"It was very painful to get here once, let's stick with it till we can feel safer that it really is gonna be gone," says Laura Misiaszek, of The Olde Wicker Mill, in New Hartford. "Once everybody or 90 or 80 or 70% of the people get vaccinated, in the country, then I think we can be comfortable with it, but I don't believe we're there yet."
Fitness center owner, Jen Venezio, made what she believes is a sound decision for all clients-masked and unmasked. They'll ask clients to provide proof of vaccination just once. Then, those clients can go maskless.
"We are confidentially documenting that they've shown it to us. They don't need to bring it again. We will maintain six foot social distancing, as we anticipate that we will have a combination of those who will be mask wearing and those who won't," says Venezio. "I think it's important for people to note that it is not a violation to ask people for that proof, so, even though it's considered personal health information, HIPAA really doesn't apply to most businesses, it's really health care providers, insurance companies."
Utica Coffee Roasing rounds out the trifecta of those not quite ready to lose the masks.
"Before we have the mask burning party, we will continue to have customers wear masks. Especially on the weekends, since this pandemic is coming to an end, we've been so busy on Saturdays, I personally feel safer with the line that's going out the door, to personally wear my own mask," says co-owner, Heather Delia.
Turning Stone Resort Casino has adopted the CDC guidance, as has Sangertown Square, in New Hartford.