River Market businesses adjust to new mask guidance

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Posted at 5:51 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 18:51:52-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Business owners are left with a decision to make about whether or not to require masks indoors following Friday's removal of Kansas City's mask mandate by Mayor Quinton Lucas.

Customers were met with a new sign on the door at The Farmhouse restaurant Friday morning saying masks are no longer required inside, but customers are welcome to wear them if they would prefer.

Co-owner Marty Enslein said he knew the mask mandates would likely be relaxed at some point, but he didn't expect it to be quite so soon.

"More than anything it just feels like the way everything was pre-COVID, and that’s what we wanted to get to, so we’re happy about the news," Enslein said.

Enslein said he and his employees were grateful to be made eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines in February. He has told his staff they are not required to wear them while they work, but they can if they'd like to.

For customers like Kathleen Huggins and Gary Kerr, it's a big moment they've been ready for.

"Just to get back to normal is a wonderful thing," Huggins said.

"I think we’re at the point right now where people have been vaccinated enough that we can get the virus sort of behind us," Kerr said. "There’s still a risk, but at least people can take that risk on their own if they haven’t gotten the vaccine, and then if they have it’s time to be back to normal so it’s exciting."

Enslein said his staff is looking forward to getting back to the personal connection between customers and servers. He feels good about the data that the CDC used to update its guidance.

"I think some of the people who didn’t feel comfortable enough maybe feel more comfortable, or it will encourage them to go out and get their COVID shot so they can feel much more comfortable going out," Enslein said.

A few blocks down the River Market, Market 3 owner Jim Andrews isn't quite ready to ditch masks. He will continue requiring his employees to wear them and will encourage customers to as well. He said he's making the decision with everyone's safety in mind.

"I understand it, and I think it’s the right direction to head, but can we really trust people to be honest and say, 'Yes, I have been vaccinated,' or, 'No, I have not been vaccinated and I need to be wearing a mask,'? Because you know nobody wants to wear a mask anymore," Andrews said.

While Andrews won't require masks for his customers, he hopes people will continue to wear them while inside.

"I really think at this point I can’t mandate that they do, I just want everybody to feel safe," Andrews said.

Andrews said he will likely follow along with big box stores when deciding to remove masks altogether.