RAPID CITY, S.D. — On Monday night, the Rapid City Council approved a first reading of a revised mask mandate ordinance.
The ordinance comes in the wake of a COVID-19 surge in the state as well as Pennington County, and is being sought for public places in which people aren’t able to safely socially distance.
So how will the ordinance affect businesses and how do they feel about a mandate in general?
“I think common sense would be more of a key that if you’re afraid, stay home, if you’re sick, stay home,” said Frank Morrison, the owner of Thirsty’s Bar and Grill. “Really just stay out of other people’s business if you don’t know for sure what you’re talking about.”
One provision gives the option for an owner or operator of any public space the opportunity to “Opt-out” of the requirement. But, whether businesses are for or against masks, a sign in the front of the store has to be visible to patrons.
For the businesses who opt-out, Morrison says the sign may hurt the business.
“We’re uncertain about that too because putting up a sign is like a scarlet letter,” Morrison said. “It’s a ‘these guys don’t comply, so they’re the bad guys’. If you put up a sign that says ‘masks required’ then the people that don’t really want to wear masks are offended and it’s the wrong approach.”
Morrison says that it’s better to take a “common sense” approach – in that it’s important to educate people on why it’s important to wear masks and on how long it may be that masks must be worn. He also says that forcing people to wear masks or forcing businesses to “label” their businesses as compliant or non-compliant is un-American.
Other businesses believe that, mandate or not, it’s about ensuring customer safety.
“We’re here to take care of the customers,” said Ron Schuh, who owns Ron’s Cafe. “So whether I agree or disagree with the mask mandate, I’m all for taking care of the customers and if wearing masks into a business is what it takes to slow this down and get business back for our small businesses, that’s what we’re happy to do and glad to do.”
Schuh also said it’s important to understand both sides of where peoples’ fears lie and he hopes that the mandate, if implemented, will make more people comfortable to come out and support local business.
The city council is set to hold a second reading of the ordinance next Monday.