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Restaurants and businesses adapting to new mask guidelines

Hair salons, bars, art galleries, and other businesses around Tampa Bay are trying to figure out how to best serve their customers.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — New mask guidelines from the CDC have left many businesses trying to figure out what to do next.

In a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people on Thursday, suggesting they could stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

10 Tampa Bay talked with local businesses along Central Avenue in St. Petersburg.

From salon owners and restaurant managers to artists and patrons, the majority of people said they're not ready to completely ditch the masks yet.

Scott Jones is the General Manager at Urban Brew and Barbeque. He said his staff will continue to wear their masks for now in an effort to make customers feel safe.

"It’s easier to make people comfortable right now by having the masks on," said Jones.

He said his staff might forgo masks in the future when the majority of people get a little more at ease with the idea. Jones isn't requiring vaccinations for his staff.

"I can’t enforce it, I’m not going to. It’s their choice. I respect that. I’m happy to be vaccinated. Most of my coworkers are too," said Jones.

Pete Boland owns The Galley in St. Petersburg. He made masks optional for his staff two weeks ago when Governor DeSantis signed an executive order eliminating all local COVID-19 restrictions and mandates.

Boland said the decision was well received and he doesn't think he's losing business because his employees aren't wearing masks.

The new guidelines could change things for customers at local businesses.

Thursday, Joyce Howell said she was ready to get a facial in a Tampa salon when she decided to ask the facialist, who was not wearing a mask, whether she was vaccinated.

"She said oh, no, I’m not vaccinated. I don’t have to wear a mask because it’s not mandated anymore. At that point I realized I didn’t want to go ahead with the facial. I didn’t want her leaning over my face," said Howell.

Fortunately the exchange wasn't confrontational; and as Howell said, "It’s her right not to get vaccinated but it’s my right not to go to her salon.”

The new CDC guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters. 

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