Masks now an option in city of Evansville

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – A major step taken by the city of Evansville and several businesses. Masks are now an option and not a mandate.

As of Tuesday, masks and social distancing will no longer be required in city-owned buildings like the Civic Center and Ford Center in Downtown Evansville.

This all coming on the heels of CDC’s announcement that those who are fully vaccinated can ditch the masks and social distancing.

But how do some local businesses plan to proceed after a year of asking customers to do both.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said given low case numbers in recent weeks and the success rate of vaccine distribution in Vanderburgh County, it is difficult to justify a mask requirement.

“After consulting with the medical professionals that we talked to the consensus was let’s, let’s go,” said Winnecke.

The CDC guidance — states you must be fully vaccinated before going mask-less.

Some Evansville businesses said they will only encourage customers to wear masks — saying that there is a sense of relief after a year of difficulties with requiring them.

“I felt like mask police the whole time. And you know, that’s not a good feeling for anybody to to make anybody else mad because you’re enforcing a role isn’t fun for anybody,” said Brian Adcock.

One West side boutique took to the new guidelines immediately. They’re also not asking that employees mask up.

“We took our signs down. And as customers come in, some of them have the mask on. And so they asked us, you know, and we just let them know, whatever they’re comfortable with,” said Teresa Powell of Lily Lu’s Boutique.

“They’re not required, but we certainly do recommend them, and we have that for our staff as well,” said Lisa Verkamp of the Evansville YMCA.

Gerst Haus management said for now they will continue require that employees do.

“We’ve talked about maybe basing it on whether an employee’s been vaccinated or not, but we haven’t fully decided on that,” said Adcock.

Many questions like that still remain as for what lies ahead — especially when it comes to whether people might eventually need proof of vaccination.

“It’s definitely going to be on the honor system. Frankly, we don’t have the infrastructure to check IDs, everywhere. At every point, we’ve been doing extra precautions for 14 months, that’s been tedious, but to require a proof of vaccination. I think it’s just not practical,” said Winnecke.

As of Monday, Vanderburgh County reported zero new cases. Masks will still be required through September 13th on all forms of mass transportation — in Evansville and beyond.

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