Businesses to continue following CDC guidance, despite lifted mask mandate

Coronavirus Local Impact

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Spirits were high in western Massachusetts on Friday, as people anticipated the end of many COVID-19 restrictions.

Thornes in Northampton had a busy afternoon, prepping for the weekend.

“Amazingly enough, we are setting up our common space seating,” Jody Doele, co-owner of Thornes said.

With capacity limits being lifted, businesses are ready for a possible increase in foot traffic. Another restriction to be lifted, face coverings. However, businesses can enforce their own mask protocol for customers.

“Some businesses may choose to keep masks or other requirements in place beyond May 29,” Governor Charlie Baker said during a press conference on Friday.

Kate Gourde is the owner of Cooper’s Gifts in Agawam. She said business picked up for Mother’s Day, and she’s hoping that will continue to Father’s Day. Gourde also said the store will be following CDC guidance and will ask unvaccinated customers to wear a mask.

“No, we’re not going to ask for proof. We’re going to ask people to please use the honor system and keep in mind its not all about them, it’s about everybody else too,” she said.

Gourde believes their shoppers will be just as receptive to this honor system as they have been with all pandemic restrictions.

“Our customers have been fabulous, we really haven’t had any issues whatsoever,” Gourde said.

At Cornucopia, located on the bottom floor of Thornes in Northampton, they’re adopting a similar protocol, they won’t question shoppers.

“You’re not going to hear us giving anyone a hard time, certainly for not wearing one, let’s put it that way,” co-owner of Cornucopia, Nick Clifford said.

The COVID-19 data for Massachusetts show things are moving in the right direction.

The latest numbers from the state show the virus positivity rate is below .8 percent, and new cases have dropped by 94 percent from the highest surge. Momentum in the right direction, towards an end to the pandemic.

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