SALT LAKE CITY — Saturday was Day 1 of mandatory face mask usage in Salt Lake and Summit Counties. The order applies to public places, inside and outside, where consistent social distancing is not possible or reasonable.
Since coronavirus became a concern a few months ago, Bob and Judy Ries have worn masks anywhere they go. Now, they said they’re happy to see others wearing masks more often.
“It’s just such a little thing, you know? It’s not that big of a deal,” said Bob Ries.
“It’s just what we need, and we have to get rid of this virus somehow,” said Judy Ries.
The couple, who are in their 80’s, were grocery shopping at The Store in Holladay Saturday afternoon.
They said they felt safer shopping today because it was the first day wearing masks in public places was mandatory for Salt Lake and Summit Counties.
“I think it should have been done earlier, frankly,” said Judy Ries.
The new mandate says wearing masks in public spaces, inside and outside, are now required for situations where social distancing isn’t possible, reasonable, or prudent.
The Store, which is a small, locally-owned grocery store, has signs letting customers knows face masks are required.
“When people come in and they see those signs that say wear a mask,” said DJ Bolerjack, who is the marketing director of The Store. “We would hope that when people do come in, they’re wearing that mask to not only keep us safe, but we wear these to keep them safe.”
The same goes for Harmon’s grocery stores, which upped it a little bit by requiring masks in all their stores, Salt Lake County or not.
“It’s imperative we all help one another keep safe and healthy, and mask-wearing is a critical part doing this,” said Harmon’s owner Bob Harmon.
The Utah Transit Authority also announced all passengers and workers on trains, buses, and vans are required to wear masks.
If nothing else, businesses can now refuse service to those not wearing masks by saying it’s a health department requirement and not just store policy.
It gives store workers a little more teeth to enforce mask usage.
“I think people really understand what to expect now,” said Bolerjack.
For the Ries, they feel if more people wore a mask while out in public, it would slow the spread of coronavirus, keep others safer, and get the country going again.
“I think it’s the best thing they could have done,” said Bob Ries. “I hate to see people out of work and hate to see places closed, so masks, I think, is a good start.”
Of course, there are those who disagree with the mandate to wear a mask.
A handful of people weren’t wearing one inside grocery stores and gas stations.