The indoor mask mandate is ending in the city of Springfield on Monday, but Mayor Domenic Sarno and Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris are still recommending face coverings, especially for some employees in local businesses.
Business owners we spoke to on Wednesday were pleased with the decision to remove the mandate and they said they don't intend on requiring face coverings for their customers or employees come Monday.
Today, Sarno and Caulton-Harris announced there will no longer be a mask mandate starting Monday, November 1.
"The mask mandate is now, for public health, a mask recommendation,” Caulton-Harris said.
Sarno cited an economic impact as one of the reasons for their decision.
"We wanted to make sure also that possibly any type of economic disadvantage, competitive spirit, would not hurt the city of springfield's businesses,” Sarno explained.
We asked local restaurant owners how they felt about the news.
"This is exciting news,” said Nadim Kashouh, owner of Nadim’s Downtown.
Rita Caputo Capua, owner of Red Rose Pizzeria, added, "I think it's a great thing, on Monday, if we could get rid of these masks to be honest with you."
However, along with this announcement, Caulton-Harris still strongly suggested that employees at businesses that serve and prepare food continue to mask up.
"Establishments that handle food, I would very much appreciate their continuing to ask their employees to wear a face covering or mask,” Caulton-Harris said.
Kashouh explained, "I respect their opinion, but at this point, if they are removing the mandate, we're removing it at the restaurant."
Local restaurant owners said it's not all that easy. Some employees at restaurants work long hours in the kitchen and a mask can make doing that job very uncomfortable.
"It's really hard when you're working behind pizza ovens and sautéing at a stove when you have a flame coming out of you,” Caputo Capua added.
Kashouh noted, “Especially for the restaurant business, it's extremely difficult to walk and work with a mask on, especially in the kitchen."
As for guests at MGM Springfield, spokesperson Beth Ward sent Western Mass News a statement that read, in part:
"In accordance with the city of Springfield’s announcement today to lift the mask mandate, MGM Springfield will also lift our mask policy for our guests effective November 1, 2021."
Caulton-Harris did ask residents to still respect the wishes of local businesses if they continue to require masks inside their establishments