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Boise businesses making changes to face mask policies

The city of Boise lifted indoor mask policies Friday, but local businesses still have the option of whether or not to require face coverings in their stores.

BOISE, Idaho — Nearly 24 hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines on mask-wearing, the City of Boise made changes to its mask mandate as well. The city is no longer requiring masks to be worn in indoor or outdoor spaces.

Limits on crowd sizes have also been lifted.

While masks are no longer a requirement under the City of Boise's regulations, they will continue to work with and support businesses that choose to require them. 

"Businesses can still require masks and social distancing, it's their own decision to make," said Boise Mayor Lauren McLean. "We're asking Boiseans to respect and honor these requests."

It's been a tough year for local businesses. They've had to deal with problems like having to close their doors for a few months to now a shortage in the workforce.

"It feels like things get rolling and then it's going to be better, but then it's just the next hurdle and the next hurdle," said Chris Niederer, the owner of Big Jud's in Boise.

One of those hurdles for Niederer and his staff has been enforcing mask policies with customers. 

For the most part, customers obliged by the restaurant's policy of wearing a face mask unless they were at their table. However, there were a few instances of customers upset by the mandate.

"We were not in this to politicize and/or fight out with customers what my opinion and their opinion was," Niederer said. "We did stick to the mask mandate."

Slowly throughout this past year, Big Jud's became a little more lenient with reminding customers to wear a mask.

With the recent change to the city's enforcement, Niederer said his restaurant may even take down their face mask requirement signs and allow customers to decide whether or not to mask up.

"I do think as a business we will continue to wear masks for however long," Niederer said. "We're not going to ask the public to wear a mask anymore."

As other Boise businesses review their mask policies, health experts, like Primary Health Medical Group CEO Dr. David Peterman, are reminding them to carefully look at their plans.

"They should ask the health department and physicians, such as myself, who are dealing with this," Peterman said.

Medical groups are also encouraging all Idahoans, 12 years old and older, to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

"I wouldn't want people to think that because we no longer have a mask mandate that people don't need to be vaccinated," Peterman said. "If anything, this is a clear, clear indication that vaccinations work."

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