MISSOULA — On Thursday, Missoula County announced the requiring of face coverings for people over age 12 in indoor public settings. Since then, some businesses have seen push back from customers due to that ordinance.
#1 Gyro/The Greek Pastry Shop owner John Kordonouris says he and his employees were targets of backlash on Thursday when the ruling was implemented, saying some customers refused to wear masks and when asked to do so, threw expletives at him and his employees before leaving.
Kordonouris said they lost about five to eight customers because of it. Friday was better, but he said the new mandate puts local businesses in a tough spot to enforce these rules because of that potential for backlash, but ultimately it's businesses, not customers, who feel the punishments if the rules are not followed.
"And it was just tough," Kordonouris said. "It's always stressful when someone leaves your business unhappy. But one thing I think that people need to know is that it's not the businesses making these laws. We're in compliance with the health department and we've been in compliance with the health department since day one and we have to. If we don't, they'll close us down or fine us.
"We're trying our best, we're all in this together and if we all do these things one day soon hopefully we can all be together again and living our lives like we used to."
Fines range from $10-to-$200 and stricter penalties can be enforced if businesses don't enforce the new mandate. Businesses can also refuse service and entry to those who don't want to oblige.
Kordonouris said the majority of customers, especially regulars, have been understanding of the situation each person and business are in, and others who have been upset have been more accommodating once these consequences are explained.
"We have hundreds of customers that come here and they are like a family to us," Kordonouris said. "Missoula is a very loving city, a very strong city, and a city I've called home for the last 20 years of my life and I believe that if we all come together and just do this for however long that it's needed we can get through this. We are Missoula strong."
Click here for more information about the #1 Gyro/The Greek Pastry Shop.