DENVER — Denver businesses are back to requiring masks after the city mandated them once again with the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Along Broadway Street, businesses already had signs up Wednesday morning warning customers that they need to wear their masks indoors.
At Sugar Bakeshop, owner Natalie Slevin says her staff has continued to wear masks throughout the pandemic since they are working with food, but they had relaxed the rules for customers when the previous mandate went away.
Now with a return to the mask mandate, the bakery is trying a sweet way to remind customers that masks are necessary indoors with a reminder spelled out in cookies right on the counter.
“It’s really hard to have to remind people every time they walk in, and I think my staff didn’t sign out for that part of the job,” Slevin said. “We hope people respect us enough as we respect them and are wearing a mask.”
The last time there was a mask mandate in place, the bakery did lose some customers who didn’t want to comply with the rules, but Slevin says they also gained new customers during that time, so it wasn’t a big hit on her business.
“Absolutely, we had some people that came in that were offended, and I just stand by the fact that we’re a food business and I want to keep the food that we put out for people protected,” she said.
Down the block at Full Afterburner Calzone, co-owner Hillary Schefter says her restaurant is taking things one step further.
In an effort to be as transparent as possible, the staff is posting a copy of their vaccine cards behind the counter to show the safety steps they are taking. They’re hoping the show of good faith will encourage customers to do the right thing as well and follow the local mandates.
“I kind of just wish everyone would get vaccinated,” Schefter said. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all get over this and move on?”
The calzone shop has been located on Broadway for a little more than a year after starting off as a food truck.
Schefter says the business community along Broadway has been very supportive of one another over the course of the pandemic, particularly with how to navigate the back-and-forth of local ordinances.
“Anything we have questions about here like, how do you guys handle this? It’s been a really nice resource that we’re not just kind of by ourselves,” Schefter said.
Meanwhile at Luke & Company Fine Pet Supply, owner Luke Johnson is hoping customers will be understanding and patient with businesses as they move back to enforcing masks.
“We don’t really have a choice, we’re just trying to follow the law," Johnson said. "We’re not trying to make a political statement, we’re not trying to cause a fuss. We’re just trying to follow the law,."
The pet supply store had gone back to having its employees wear masks even before the local mandate was reinstated. Johnson is hoping Denver customers will be used to masks that this latest mandate won’t matter much.
None of the stores Denver7 visited along Broadway said they were only going to require customers to show their vaccine cards, although that is an option under the Denver mandate.
“I think it’s a really great gesture that the city has try to let folks or let businesses check vaccination cards if they want to,” Johnson said.
However, he says checking vaccine cards would require an employee to staff the front door at all times, which is burdensome on businesses during a labor shortage. It can also be uncomfortable or intrusive to ask customers to prove their vaccination status.
There’s also the question of whether the vaccine cards would even be legitimate since fraudulent cards have popped up across the country recently.
“It puts us in sort of a de facto enforcer of the vaccine card," Johnson said. "Here we are trying to sell pet food, and we’re trying to examine the legitimacy of a vaccine card, and then if it’s blatantly fake, what are you do?”
Because of that, Johnson says it’s easiest to just require masks in the store.
At the end of the day, all of the business owners Denver7 spoke with say while masks are not ideal, they’re better than a complete closure again, so they’ll do whatever it takes to keep their doors open.
“When the last lockdown happened when we opened up, the damage was catastrophic, and I think that both sides of the political arena will tell you that we can’t do that again,” Johnson said. “I think for a reasonable individual, this is the only option. You put the mask on.”