FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - South Florida business owners are weighing in on a new guideline from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending that everyone, even those who have been vaccinated, wear masks indoors, as the state faces a spike in COVID-19 cases.
At McDonald Hardware in Fort Lauderdale, they didn’t need the CDC’s recommendation. Owner Atiba Abdullah said they haven’t stopped wearing masks indoors since the pandemic began.
“We just want to make sure that we keep our employees safe, our customers safe,” said Abdullah.
The business even offers masks for free at the door in case a customer doesn’t have one.
But with about 700 customers walking through a day, Abdullah said, they’ve seen some pushback.
“Nobody wants to wear the mask. Nobody wants to be told what to do,” he said.
But overwhelmingly, he said, people are complying.
About a mile away, at My Market Deli, owner Tom Schofield said he leaves the decision up to his customers.
“I don’t require anybody to wear a mask. My employees, some of my employees are wearing masks at the moment, and some aren’t,” he said.
At Caffe Europa on Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale, the policy is simple: masks on for employees, masks optional for customers.
“Because it was a lot of arguments, that’s why,” said Mario Brandimarte with Caffe Europa. “It was a lot of arguments, a lot of people saying, ‘I got vaccinated, I do this, I do that, so we don’t want to take any arguing, but we’re still doing whatever is best for everybody.”
Despite the CDC’s new recommendation, that’s the way it has been in Florida since Gov. Ron DeSantis prohibited local governments from issuing mandates, excluding school districts, back in May.
“The approach here is showing Florida leading the way again,” said DeSantis.
But Florida leads in another area as well: as the state with the most COVID cases. The Sunshine State accounts for 20% of the nation’s new coronavirus cases.
With cases of the virus on the rise, local mask policies vary from business to business.
The Apple Store on Lincoln Road, for instance, will require masks inside, while it appears many restaurants are leaving it up to customers.
So is Carroll’s Jewelers on Las Olas Boulevard.
“It’s their own personal preference. If the customer is wearing a mask, that’s fine; if they don’t want to wear a mask, it’s all right,” said John Moorman with Carroll’s Jewelers. “In employees, it’s the same way. It’s come as you are.”
However, officials with Miami-Dade and Broward counties will require everyone entering county buildings to wear masks. The policy is already being enforced in Miami-Dade and goes into effect in Broward on Friday.
Meanwhile, Broward County Public Schools voted unanimously to require masks in the classroom next month, something DeSantis has spoken out against.
“The CDC is saying every single person in the school needs to wear a mask all day?” the governor said.
Dr. Rosalind Osgood, chair of the Broward County School Board, said they’ll play nice if the governor becomes involved.
“Once the governor implements that law, then this school district will be responsible school board members and follow the law,” she said.
Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said they will reach a decision about mask wearing in classrooms in the coming days.
“We want to do the right thing for the right reason,” he said.
Back at McDonald Hardware, Abdullah said the masks will remain on.
“It has helped to keep our employees safe. We have never had to shut down as a result of it,” he said.
Brandimarte said one bright spot is that no employee has gotten sick, not even with a cold, since they all started wearing masks at Caffe Europa.
7News has reached out to several large retailers and grocery store chains. A spokesperson for Publix said they are currently reviewing the situation, and a spokesperson for Costco said they will follow the state restrictions.
Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.