GI business opinion on new city mask mandate

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 9:04 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Grand Island’s citywide mask mandate starts in a couple days, and local businesses weigh in if they’ll follow and adhere to the new ordinance.

40 North Tap and Grille in Grand Island said the new mask mandate won’t be too much of a hassle.

“In the restaurant business we’ve already done a lot of precautions. A lot of extra things. A lot of extra investments. No touch this and no touch that,” Owner Jay Vavricek said. “We already have a mask policy in place where you walk in and have an enjoyable dinner without a mask so the policy isn’t cumbersome.”

The restaurant hasn’t had much push-back from customers about requiring masks, but it does add extra layer of responsibility when it comes to enforcing the new policy.

“The enforcement part is also layered on to us too, because if we don’t then we can be defined as a nuisance and a lot of bad things can happen when that occurs,” Vavricek said.

Businesses who refuse to follow the mask mandate will be fined, and they’re also responsible for calling police if customers refuse to wear masks inside the building.

“We’re going to be positive,” Vavricek said. “We’re going to do the best we can and have a great facility but it’s been a tough road to hold lately.”

Local businesses are worried Governor Pete Ricketts will re-impose spring restrictions.

“Of course tightening of restrictions always has an affect on the businesses. If it means that the businesses are having to shut their doors there’s no dollars coming in to them that’s really tough on a small business or a business with maybe one or two people,” said Talent Pipeline Director Courtney Lierman, Grand Island Chamber of Commerce.

40 North Tap and Grille opened earlier this year, and Vavricek believes the new mask mandate isn’t going to hurt, because the damage is already done. He blames state and federal officials for telling consumers the hospitality industry are hubs for spreading the virus.

“The comments from policy makers, well you can look around here I mean this is lunch hour and there’s not a person here enjoying lunch today,” Vavricek said. “So all those things not only locally, but nationally have impacted I think consumer confidence.”

The Grand Island Chamber of Commerce hopes this mask mandate will slow the spread of the virus, and make consumers feel more comfortable to shop locally.

“Implementing a mask policy here in Grand Island hopefully will level the playing field for all of our businesses and organizations who serve the public with consistent messaging and communication of what is expected of our consumers as they enter the businesses,” Lierman said. “It’ll lower fears and hopefully help to keep individuals safe but also allow them to shop locally this season.”

Vavricek never envisioned opening a new business during a pandemic, but they’re trying to make it work the best they can.

“We re-opened from June and our business was going up each and every week, but as of the last couple of weeks we’re now seeing the trend going the other way,” Vavricek said.

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