Some businesses are continuing to allow optional masks for customers and will change its policies if there is another mandate while others are keeping their own requirements after seven Bay Area counties including San Mateo issued recommendations people wear a mask indoors, even if vaccinated.

“We’re monitoring the situation. We’re waiting to see what they’re trying to enforce. If the county ends up mandating that masks need to be worn, then we will certainly comply,” said Garrett Maire, manager of O’Neill’s Irish Pub in San Mateo.

The staff is vaccinated and continues to wear masks. Customers can choose to wear a mask. If the recommendation becomes mandatory, then it will require customers to wear masks, he said.

“They’re the professionals, they’re looking at all the statistics and everything else. Nobody wants another outbreak or another spike,” he said. “If wearing masks for a couple weeks or however long it is, will prevent an escalation of the virus then absolutely I think everyone should adhere.”

Maire’s concern is about those who haven’t been vaccinated and for children under 12 who haven’t had the chance to receive their vaccination yet.

“We’re just now getting to the point where we’re starting to see things turn back in the right direction,” he said. “We barely survived the lockdown last time so if it gets really bad then you’re gonna see a whole lot of small businesses shutting doors. It’s unsustainable. You can’t keep a business without its customers.”

Nuts for Candy on Broadway in Burlingame is requiring customers wear masks and has been doing so even when the county allowed businesses to have the option for no masks indoors last month. And it provides masks to those who try to come in without a mask. John Kevranian, owner at Nuts for Candy, also has a concern because children under 12 can’t get vaccinated.

“We require them to wear a mask because a lot of our customers are kids under 12 and they’re not vaccinated. So that is a concern for us, for kids under 12 and also for people who are not vaccinated,” said Kevranian, also president of Broadway Burlingame Business Improvement District. “I think the county officials need to step and say you know what, numbers are going up, let’s require masking indoor for all businesses,” he said. “Now that the hotels are open, we’re seeing travelers coming from out of state and visiting our businesses and our downtown and we don’t know if they’re vaccinated.”

Town, a restaurant in San Carlos, is also continuing to allow customers to have the choice to wear masks, and will change its policies if wearing masks indoors becomes mandatory.

“We do still ask the guests that whoever is not fully vaccinated that they do wear a mask. If I happen to have a staff member who’s not fully vaccinated, they do have to wear a mask. Besides that, we do not have a mask enforcement until the county says to enforce,” Frank Sanchez, operating partner at Town, said.

It is continuing to take precautions including making sure employees’ temperatures are taken and not allowing employees to work if they are sick.

“We’re still following all of our behind-the-scenes procedures as if we’re still in full-blown lockdown of COVID. It definitely is worrisome as we’re seeing these numbers escalate,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure everyone stays safe.”

At Nuts for Candy, Kevranian doesn’t think masks indoors will become mandatory unless the numbers keep going up but said they should stop that from happening early on.

“We saw what happened in 2020 with the shutdowns. It paralyzed our businesses. We don’t want to go there. We need to take a step back and say let’s wait, let’s look, and let’s require masks. I think our county health officials and our county supervisors, they need to work with our business community,” he said.

He noticed businesses on Broadway with signs that say masks recommended but said he thinks businesses are hurt financially if it chooses to require masks because people won’t want to go in.

“They’re afraid if they require masks they’re going to lose business and that’s the concern,” he said. “That’s why I think masks should be required until we think it’s safe. Right now it’s not safe.”

At Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo, the mask rules can vary by store.

“Hillsdale Shopping Center continues to follow all local and state health guidelines. We have posted signage advising shoppers of the latest County health recommendations. Individual stores are updating their policies on a case by case basis,” Christine Kupczak, director of marketing at Hillsdale Shopping Center, said in a statement.

(650) 344-5200, ext. 105

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