Businesses CONTINUE TO requirE masks after mask mandate lift

JONESBORO, Ark. – COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed across the country and many states have lifted their mask mandates, Arkansas being one of those states. 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson lifted the mask mandate after consulting with Department of Health Secretary Jose Romero according to a press release from the official website of Gov. Asa Hutchinson.   

Tropical Smoothie Café requires both their employees and customers to wear masks inside the building.
Photo by Maddison Smith

Businesses still have the right to require that customers wear masks when entering their stores, but many only require their employees to wear a mask. Hotworx Sales Associate Megan Tremmel said, “After the mask mandate was lifted, we don’t require people to wear masks. If they want to and it helps them feel comfortable, then so be it.” 

Other stores like Palm Beach Tan require masks for their employees, routinely practice social distancing and leave signs on the outside of their building recommending their customers to wear masks. 

According to the Arkansas Department of Health’s website, there are 1,325 active cases of COVID-19. Craighead county had eight new cases, Pulaski county nine new cases and Lonoke county with seven new cases of COVID-19. 

Vaccinations are being distributed and given to people across the country. In Arkansas alone, around 630,000 people are fully vaccinated, with this number increasing daily. 

Tropical Smoothie Café Manager Ryan Denis said the store requires both their employees and customers to wear masks while inside the building. 

“I’ve been surprised to see so many people still wearing masks. The threat is still out there, we don’t want to turn our back to it,” Denis said. 

“I’ve been surprised to see so many people still wearing masks.”

– Tropical Smoothie Café Manager Ryan Denis

Up until two months ago, Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s drive-thru provided the only business the store received. Denis said there is now more traffic in their lobbies since the mask mandate has been lifted. 

Denis said he feels food service workers feel different about wearing masks. Guests do not pose a threat because his employees are able to successfully social distance.  

“I wear my mask mostly for other people. We owe each other that courtesy,” Denis said. “I’m ready for it to be normal. I want to see people’s faces and smiles again.” 

Palm Beach Tan Manager Kaygan Muse said they have more customers coming in without masks. 

Muse said she is not concerned for her well-being or her employees since they are still wearing masks and have extra cleaning procedures for their tanning beds. 

“It’s a start. I think the cases have lowered a lot recently so I think we are going in the right direction to go back to normal,” Muse said.

CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE LOCAL MASK MANDATE.

Maddison Smith is a senior in the multimedia journalism program in The School of Media and Journalism at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. You can follow her on Twitter. She can be contacted at: maddison.smith@smail.astate.edu.