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Local businesses react to Indiana statewide mask mandate

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 6:30 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - To mask, or not to mask? That is the question many local business owners will have to face Monday, July 27th, as a statewide mask mandate goes into effect.

“We really have to keep in mind that the businesses and their employees are trying to follow the rules,” Elkhart County Chamber of Commerce President Levon Johnson says.

Derek Ogawa, who owns Old Style Deli in downtown Elkhart, says most of his customers have complied with local mask mandates, and now with a new one on its way from the state, he says enforcing it may be the best thing for his business.

“I know there is a lot of people who go out and cause a lot of drama sometimes of people not wearing masks, or if they do have masks; they have their own opinions. For us, we just want to make it a nice, comfortable dine and enjoy it,” Ogawa says.

Hoosiers eight-years-old or older will be required to wear a mask at indoor public places, while using transportation, or outside where physical distancing is not possible. Exemptions include Hoosiers with medical conditions, performing physical strenuous activity, or while eating or drinking.

Even though Ogawa says he has not had any run-ins with customers about not wearing a mask, he says he knows it will not last forever.

“I’m sure it’s going to come. Oh, it’s going to come,” Ogawa says.

Across the street and always keeping her store clean and steamed is owner of Twisted Strings Kelly Regier, who says she is doing whatever she can to keep customers coming in.

“People can come in, people can use my dressing room -- I know some places you can’t -- we just adapt. We steam the clothes afterwards, we stay six feet away, or we wear the mask,” Regier says.

And starting Monday, not wearing a mask at indoor public places like this Twisted Strings could land Hoosiers a class B misdemeanor, but since the governor says he isn’t going out of his way to enforce the mandate, Regier says she isn’t either.

“It’s such a controversial issue and I really let my customers decide for themselves. If they don’t want to wear a mask, I just stay six feet away,” Regier says.

The statewide mask mandate goes into effect on Monday, July 27th.

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