Local businesses react to CDC announcement

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Thursday, the CDC announced fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

But there is hesitancy from some business owners to fully cut the mask strings. Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, or local rules and regulations, including businesses and workplace guidance.

Owner of Pronto Pizzeria in Wilkes-Barre, Qendrim Mahmutaj, says he looks forward to being able to tell his staff they no longer have to wear masks while working near a hot pizza oven all day.

“I would love to take the mask off. Especially now in summertime, it’s really hot to work next to the oven. It’s going to be really hot with those masks. I’m tired. But what are you going to do? Safety first,” Mahmutaj said.

Thursday, the CDC announced fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings, except where required by federal, state, or local rules and regulations, including businesses and workplace guidance.

“That’s going to be a great benefit for me. And plus I can see someone’s face, and recognize them,” A Wilkes-Barre resident named Tom, who is fully vaccinated, said.

But as a business owner, Mahmutaj is hesitant to take down the “mask required” sign on the door.
It’s been a challenging year of trying to keep up with the state’s orders, and he won’t do anything to jeopardize his business.

“It’s safety first and I live from this store. I don’t want anybody to close my store. And like, people are recording and putting videos on Facebook and stuff, you know? I want to follow the rules,” Mahmutaj said.

Mahmutaj is proud to say his entire staff is either fully vaccinated or had their first dose. But, since there’s no surefire way for business owners to distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated customers, he may continue to require masks at his business until the governor lifts the mask mandate for unvaccinated people as well.

“If they don’t say that, I’m not going to serve like with no mask too. I don’t let anyone come without a mask. Mask is required,” Mahmutaj said.

Governor Wolf says that will happen once 70 percent of Pennsylvanians 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Thursday, Wolf tweeted 46.7 percent of adults in Pennsylvania are now fully vaccinated.

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