Local community reacts positively to the lifting of the mask mandate | Local

DREW WARDLE

What impact will lifting the mask mandate have on local businesses? According to some Glens Falls-based owners, there won’t be much of a difference. That’s not to say many in the area aren’t relieved that customers and owners no longer have to wear them.

While some local community leaders are content, others, including the mayor of Glens Falls, will continue to wear masks in businesses and public places.

“Governor Kathy Hochul makes decisions based on the data she gets from health officials, and Warren County will follow the state’s lead as they always do,” Mayor Bill Collins said Wednesday. of Glens Falls.

“Over the past seven days we have had less than 10% infection rate, but I would strongly encourage people to continue wearing masks,” the mayor said.

According to the governor, on Tuesday of this week, New York’s COVID infection rate was around 3.2%, down significantly from 23% in January.

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When the state hit its peak infection rate during the omicron wave, New York had the second-highest infection rate in the nation, with about 381.7 new cases for every 100,000 tested.

In February, that number fell to 32.3.

How are some of the local businesses reacting to the lifting of the mandate?

“I would say it’s time. The numbers were really going up when she (Hochul) instituted the mandate and now they’re going down, and we’re in a much better position now,” said Robin Barkenhagen, owner of 42 Degrees.

“As far as my business is concerned, we are definitely ready for this – people are ready for this. I don’t think it had an effect one way or the other. Since last term, we had maybe two to three clients who refused to wear masks, but we were giving out masks.

“Even people who don’t like wearing masks will take the free mask. I only had one guy screaming that the government was taking over. But other than that, I don’t think it’s going to increase or decrease activity, I just think we’ll be able to breathe better.

Some government officials in the region have released statements claiming the mask mandate is harmful to businesses and students in classrooms.

State Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon, representing the 43rd Senate District, which includes parts of Washington and Saratoga counties, said: Countless small businesses that have struggled under the weight of the unconstitutional edict and costly from the governor.

Although the mandate has been lifted, cities, counties and businesses still have the option of requiring residents to wear masks.

“Overall, I think people should have the choice to wear a mask,” said building manager Colvin in Glens Falls.

For some companies, masks have become useful in maintaining general sanitary standards.

“We will always wear masks in the kitchen and in the front of the store. We’re still going to have to taste things in the kitchen, which means taking off our masks from time to time,” said Muhammad Saud, the owner of Alif Cafe in Glens Falls.

“Honestly, I think wearing masks, especially in a kitchen, is better. It’s better if you wear a mask if you’re sneezing, for example. I’m not going to penalize people for not wearing it, but my staff knows best,” he added.

Maura Forcier is the mother and owner of Minky Mink, a business on Glen Street.

“If customers don’t have to wear masks, great, but I don’t think it’s really affected my business in general,” she said Wednesday. “I think some people will still be a little suspicious if they are still scared of the pandemic. I think companies should have choice in general.

She continued, “My daughter is 2 years old and she is technically supposed to wear a mask. As a 2 year old, I don’t think it’s beneficial for her to wear a mask because she’s too small and she rarely wears it, but if she sees me wearing it, she wants to wear it .

Schools and daycares across the state will still have the mask mandate in effect until at least March. The state will reevaluate the mask mandate for schools in the first week of March.

“We know there is a break coming. Most public school students will be back the week after Feb. 28, some may travel to other states,” Hochul said at a press conference Wednesday.

“Let’s make sure there are test kits, and we’re giving them out right now,” Hochul said.

According to the governor, New York State has amassed the most COVID test kits in the country.

“And what do we do with them?” Distribute them to schools, give them to parents, put them in the hands of people who can find out who is HIV-positive before they (the children) come back,” she said. “By this Friday, just days after the children return, we will be able to look at those numbers, but not just those numbers. We’re going to review everything we’ve reviewed throughout this process. »

State Sen. Dan Stec’s office issued a press release supporting Hochul’s decision to waive the mandate.

“Governor Hochul’s decision to lift the mask mandate on small businesses was long overdue,” said Stec, R-Queensbury.

Stec also called on Hochul not to wait to lift the mask mandate for students.

“Numerous studies have shown the detrimental effects of masks on the social, emotional and intellectual development of students. Rather than delay a decision on this for another month, we must move forward and repeal this mandate imposed on our students and teachers,” Stec added.