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Local businesses weigh in on new mask requirement

NOW: Local businesses weigh in on new mask requirement

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Monday marked the first full day of the St. Joseph County Health Department’s new order requiring everyone who is medically-able to wear a mask inside places where social distancing isn’t possible.

The order requires everyone in the county to wear a mask inside public places. There are exceptions if you’re not medically-able, or are in a place where social distancing of at least six feet is possible.

At Purple Porch Co-op in South Bend, they’ve been fully stocked on masks, gloves and hand sanitizer for staff for seven weeks. Now, in accordance with the order, they’re asking customers to wear a face covering inside and the store has multiple hand sanitizer stations throughout. But if you’re without a mask, you won’t be turned away.

“The sign on the front door is just kind of explaining that we are strongly encouraging everyone who comes through our doors have a face covering of some sort. Our employees, like it has been the past 7 to 8 weeks, have been consistently wearing masks anytime they’re in the store,” said Kristy Robinson, Purple Porch Front Retail Manager. “When everything was starting to happen with the announcements that were coming through the government, we were sure to go online and order from the supply companies that we normally do.”

Purple Porch Co-op is still open its regular hours, they’re just only allowing 12 customers in at a time.

At Phillips 66 in Granger, they’re enforcing social distancing and have employees wearing masks – but they’re not expecting customers to have them on.

The manager at Phillips 66 saying it’s hard to enforce the order when they can’t afford to lose customers and she believes the county’s order will keep people from even bothering to come into stores.

While the owner at Phillips 66 has required employees to wear masks and use hand sanitizer – they don’t yet have them to give out to customers because they say they can’t find any.

And customers have been understanding of that so far, with manager Karen VanTornhout saying most don’t even agree with this order.

“A lot of our customers are saying ‘We haven’t worn one since this all started, why do they want to make us wear one now?’ I also have employees that disagree with that, because they’re behind the plastic and they’re probably about a good three foot, four foot from the customers and they’ve never worn one since day one,” said Karen VanTornHout, Phillips 66 Granger manager.

There are only seven people allowed in Phillips 66 at a time. As far as getting more masks and hand sanitizer, they say they may need the county health department’s help to find some.

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