(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Beginning Monday at midnight, St. Joseph's city mask mandate went into effect.
Now, large retailers 10,000 square feet and larger must require employees and customers to wear a mask upon entry. A decision retailers said they saw coming.
“We just knew it was lurking and it was probably going to be inevitable. So, it was just like, ‘Well, the day is here so here we go,’” said Mel Bachali, store manager for Family Center Farm & Home St. Joseph.
While most St. Joseph retailers are taking the mandate in stride, store managers said enforcing the mask ordinance on their customers is nearly impossible.
“There’s really not (much we can do). All we can do at this point is encourage and work by example,” said Bachali.
Discussions surrounding face coverings have become a political battleground, a topic that seems to fall along party lines. However, Bachali said she had no problems Monday morning.
“Majority of the people are wearing their masks. They’re prepared, they know that’s what’s being asked of them and so, they have a mask in hand and are putting it on as they walk into the store,” said Bachali.
While Family Center Farm & Home is complying with the city's mandate, the store manager admits she thinks the ordinance is counterintuitive.
“Well, to be honest. Some kinda think it’s a little backwards. The bigger stores can spread out and the smaller stores are more confined, so maybe have the masks in there. But nonetheless, this was their decision and we will roll with it,” said Bachali.
That same sentiment was echoed by a St. Joseph councilman last week after the city council came to their compromise.
“It’s the opposite of what we should be doing. Larger spaces indoors are much safer without masks than smaller confined spaces. So, if we are not going to have a uniform masks mandate indoors in public spaces, then we should be doing what we did today. Which is have masks be mandatory in small spaces,” said Brian Myers, St. Joseph Councilman.
St. Joseph's mask mandate is in effect for the next 60 days.
The city council is continuing to meet each Thursday to discuss COVID-19's impact on St. Joseph.