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Spokane business owners react to indoor mask mandate ending

Local business owners had mixed feelings over Gov. Inslee's decision to lift Washington's indoor mask mandate on Mar. 21, 2022.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Washington is currently one of five states in the nation with a mask mandate. Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that masks would no longer be required in most places Mar. 21 — it’s welcome news for many local business owners. 

“It’s been really difficult. It’s been really odd the way people treat each other,” said Mark Starr, owner of David’s Pizza. “My staff doesn't know what to do. Some people are religious about wearing their masks and of course we're respectful of that and there's other people that are like why do we have to put these on?"

Starr’s restaurant is across the street from the Spokane Arena. Matt Meyer, director of entertainment, believes lifting the mandate is a step in the right direction. “I do expect ticket sales to increase,” Meyer said. “Obviously it comes down to personal preference on what your expectations are when it comes to COVID so I know some people will have some hesitations."

Beth Bowman, co-owner of Italia Trattoria called the governor’s announcement confusing.

“Nobody knows where we are going to be in a month in change," Bowman said.

Her restaurant has strictly enforced the mask mandate; they even require proof of vaccination. 

"We still every night get people saying thank you I haven't gone out to eat in years, or a year or whatever. We got so many new people from that it was unbelievable, we were just packed because of it,” Bowman said. 

She may stick to those policies even after the mandate is lifted. 

“When the medical community has less stress on them, when they are able to handle it… right now it's still high numbers coming in even if people are not necessarily dying from it, they are still very sick," Bowman said.

Tim Lannigan owns Neato Burrito and has also required vaccine cards. 

“We end up looking like the bad guys a lot of the time because we’re always asking, you know, where’s your mask?," Lannigan said.

He won’t require anything once the mandate is lifted—he’s even planned a special event for the day after. 

"It [the mandate] ends on the 21st of March and on the 22nd we have a show and my band is playing in it, so I’m so excited," Lannigan said.

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