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Business owners wrestle with whether or not to require masks

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.

Posted: May 18, 2021 5:41 PM
Updated: May 18, 2021 7:24 PM

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.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2537823

Reported Deaths: 56270
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings33533010862
Queens31620210308
Suffolk2406933616
Nassau2150853300
Bronx2081546756
New York1687034643
Westchester1439382344
Erie1073581959
Richmond893051939
Monroe851201189
Orange57824920
Rockland53317779
Onondaga52624765
Dutchess35811500
Albany31130390
Oneida28916592
Broome24801409
Niagara24280398
Saratoga20545205
Ulster17373280
Schenectady16970229
Rensselaer15006170
Chautauqua12556175
Putnam1255098
Oswego11868115
Chemung11069158
St. Lawrence10742128
Steuben10304174
Ontario9467111
Jefferson903578
Cayuga8745107
Sullivan854183
Wayne830685
Cattaraugus7863118
Genesee7120132
Herkimer6890129
Clinton683740
Tompkins658059
Fulton6465104
Madison6288102
Montgomery6063143
Livingston581171
Warren559484
Cortland541380
Tioga519472
Columbia5053111
Chenango474688
Allegany471598
Washington471468
Otsego462655
Wyoming443458
Greene442587
Orleans441089
Franklin436422
Lewis365338
Delaware360348
Seneca276763
Essex237533
Schoharie233723
Yates167728
Schuyler155817
Hamilton4393
Unassigned14123
Out of NY0319
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