“There are no vaccine passports, and how do you police ‘if you’re vaccinated, please feel free to leave your mask at home’?” Bender said. “It’s difficult because if somebody isn’t vaccinated, it’s obvious if they are wearing a mask, but it’s not if they don’t.” Bender isn’t worried about how much business she might gain or lose, given that she has a niche store. But it’s tough to enforce a mask policy that covers both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, she added. Earl Stoddard, director of the county’s office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, told reporters at a news conference Wednesday there will be an “ebb and flow” to whether certain private businesses will require masks or not.
With Montgomery County fully reopened and its mask mandate lifted, businesses now must decide whether to require them — possibly leading to varying policies depending on business owners’ decisions. News owners like Bender are making choices about their rules or expectations for customers, now that they have that discretion.
For now, Bender is keeping mask use a requirement until all of her staff is fully vaccinated. Amy Bender, a co-owner and retail manager of Woodcraft, said the customer doesn’t wear a mask, but spends a considerable amount of money at her business.
His business has done well during the pandemic as people have sent flowers to friends and family to keep their spirits up, Callahan said. “I believe that 99 percent of the people are good and taking this seriously and treating this the right way,” he said. “We have a lady who comes in weekly who is fully vaccinated, but she’s elderly and she still chooses to wear a mask. And that’s good by me.” Tracy Callahan, the owner of Bethesda Florist, said his employees aren’t wearing masks and customers may come in maskless if they are vaccinated. But it’s the honor system, as the shop isn’t requiring proof, he added.
“In Montgomery County, we have a lot of people who are going to wear face coverings for at least the foreseeable future because it’s a choice,” Stoddard said. “People should not feel like they have to sit at home and do nothing. They could feel comfortable reaping the benefits … that everyone in the community has put in a lot of effort to get where we are at right now.” Stoddard added that it’s important for residents to respect one another if they choose to wear masks in stores that don’t require them.
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