Following the announcement of California’s indoor mask mandate returning until at least mid-January, businesses across California said that it has been deja vu all over again, with many again worried about how it will impact their businesses.
While mask mandates had been still in effect in places like LA County and in certain businesses such as food stores and movie theaters, much of California ended mandatory masks when the state ended their mandate in mid-June. As a result, many businesses saw a surge in new customers. Many who remained unvaccinated but had not gone out due to mask policies, brought a new wave of customers. And with strong demand to go out after over a year of being restricted, many struggling businesses suddenly saw profit margins above where they had been in 2019.
“It was a great summer and fall,” Ian Adler, a Shasta County restaurant owner told the Globe Monday. “As soon as the state bowed out, we got the green light from the County. Day one with no masks we had a line of people. There were truckers going up [Interstate 5] who pulled off for gas taking pictures of the lines. We’re a small restaurant. We never experienced anything like this.”
“We barely made it doing take out and limited dining. One month we were saved by several campers having to go to the city because of an emergency ordering a ton of food from us. That’s how close we were to shutting down.”
“But now, with things close to being normal again, the state pulls this. There goes a bunch of customers. It’s easy for the state to say that they’ll still come in with masks because they can just take them off, but they really don’t understand the psychology of a lot of people. A mask mandate to many is a cue to not go anywhere. So that’s 20% of our business gone right there at least.”
“I get bigger cities like LA or San Francisco or Oakland doing this, but Redding? Some towns around here? Really?”
In more urban counties that originally got rid of mask mandates during the summer but slowly reinstated mandates at select places throughout the rest of the year, the reaction to the state mandate was somewhat more mild.
“We knew this was coming,” said Kern County business owner Martin Schaeffer to the Globe on Monday. “It seemed like the County and the state were building back to it, especially with Delta and Omicron. So now it’s back to masks. I can’t say there is any outrage, as everyone has COVID fatigue. It’s just more overall disappointment. We’re just not even mad any more, even though we know we’ll be losing customers to this. We’re just disappointed with California.”
Shop owners in larger cities, who still fall under indoor mask mandates as well as more advanced requirements like vaccine mandates, meanwhile, said that the state mandate wouldn’t do much.
“We’re already beyond requiring masks,” said Carter Freeman, a security guard who checks for COVID-19 measure compliance at an arena in Los Angeles. “The mask mandate really doesn’t affect us. We’re checking not only for masks, but for proof of vaccination, recent COVID tests, and other things like that.”
“We already had masks is what it is.”
Currently in California roughly one out of every three Californians still have not been fully vaccinated, with one out of five not receiving a single dose. The statewide mandate is expected to be in place until at least mid-January.