Business is booming at mask optional establishments

Updated: Apr. 1, 2021 at 11:01 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -It’s been one week since Arizona Governor Doug Ducey lifted mask requirements. Some mask optional establishments say business is the best it’s been in a year.

“The last two weeks have been better than the last six months,” said Taylor Carter, the CEO of Firetruck Brewing Company. “It’s very good to see people coming out again, they are more comfortable [eating out] and they are supporting local.”

Carter says his customers enjoy having a choice when it comes to wearing a mask.

“We are seeing a lot more smiling faces coming in, which is nice,” he said. “The [COVID-19 case] numbers are down, I’ve been watching them almost every day. I’m a retired paramedic firefighter, so I understand health and safety.”

However, Carter says he’s also a supporter personal freedom. It’s something a Facebook group has also grabbed hold of. With 2,000 members, “Tucson Area – No Masks Required” seeks to prop up mask optional businesses.

“The fact that we don’t have to necessarily fight our customers over some difficult to understand rules that hadn’t been well articulated to the general public has been incredibly helpful,” said Grant Krueger, the owner of Union Public House.

Krueger still requires his employees to mask up. He says the majority of his customers have also been coming in with face coverings on.

“Not having to be in the ‘no’ business with our guests has been fantastic,” he said.

Union and Firetruck have not been contacted by the Pima County Health Department.

“The ultimate authority is the executive and the state,” said Carter. “Hopefully, we can all get back to business and not have to worry about a power struggle.”

Pima County says businesses in violation of their mask mandate risk a $500 fine per infraction. Data on enforcement from the past week is not available at this time.

The City of Tucson says residents not wearing face coverings in public spaces where social distancing is not possible could also receive a $50 fine.

A spokesperson for the Mayor’s office sent KOLD News 13 the following statement:

“Our goal all along with the local mask ordinance has been compliance, not prosecution. The men and women at the Tucson Police Department have been making educational contacts with individuals out of compliance and have distributed thousands of masks. We have been very successful in getting strong voluntary compliance from Tucsonans through this approach. That being said, individuals who refuse to comply after warning are subject to civil citation ($50 fine or community service hours). The goal is to ensure consistent mask wearing in public, and our approach has proven to be effective without the need to be heavy-handed.”

Gov. Ducey will have a say on whether businesses have to enforce mask mandates. The full senate passed HB 2770, which would allow businesses to ignore any mask rules. The bill also passed the house.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.