MISSOULA — Following the Health Board’s vote to require face masks inside public places in Missoula County, community leaders came together and gave their reactions to the decision.
Across the board, from an education perspective to the economics standpoint, Missoula’s leaders shared overwhelming support for the new mandate.
“This is a common sense step forward, during a time when this virus is on the rise, not on the wane," Mayor John Engen said.
Local leaders say this requirement is the city’s best shot at economic recovery.
“We realize that it’s untenable to remain as we are right now,” said Chairman for the County Commissioners Josh Slotnick. “It's also untenable to have our economy completely closed down, so this, in my mind, is our first and best crack at coming up with a way to be open and safe.”
It will be up to our local businesses to enforce the mandate. With fear of facing repercussions, businesses across the city have a newfound responsibility to ensure their customers are complying.
For The Rhinoceros and Mary’s Mountain Cookies, two popular businesses downtown, the requirement seems fair. That’s not to say they won’t be facing any hiccups as they try to keep their customers covered up.
“With us, when somebody is having a beverage, they’re gonna have to take their mask off,” Brad Martens, co-owner of The Rhino, said.
Owner of Mary’s Mountain Cookies, Shelby McCracken, added, “I’m worried a little bit about losing business because some people don’t want to wear masks. We just want people to come in and enjoy and have a good time, but we also want to keep people safe.”
In what’s already a challenging time for small businesses, owners hope to see their customers cooperating.
“We are not the mask police, but we’re behind anything that’s going to help our community make sure the virus doesn't spread,” said Martens.
Echoing those sentiments McCracken said, “Anything we can do as business owners and people in the community to keep the businesses open is a positive for the businesses and Montana in general.”