The Summit County Health Board heard on Monday that a number of East Side businesses feel they’re seriously hurting due to the county’s mandatory mask order, and they say the county isn’t listening to them.
During a brief conversation in the Health Board’s virtual meeting, board member Chris Ure, a South Summit resident, said he’s heard some area business owners say they’re being treated “like a kicking post.”
He recalled visiting with a local restaurant owner when the news about the mask order came down.
“The first comment out of his mouth was, “'This county’s trying to put me out of business,’” Ure recalled. “And the business owners over here feel that Summit County is not listening to them. Right now is their busy time of the year. It’s not in the ski season, it’s right now. And all these regulations keep coming into place, and all that, and it’s like this owner told me, he said, 'My customers do not wear masks. I require my employees to wear masks, but my customers do not wear masks. It’s just the demographic area over here that they do not wear masks. And if they have to wear masks, they’re not going to come in and patronize me.'”
He said the local restaurants have tried to follow the COVID-19 restrictions, such as social distancing.
“At least the ones I’ve eaten at, you don’t even really interact with them anymore,” Ure said. “You just sit down and order off of your phone and you go from there.”
Ure said the county should communicate better with the East Side about any further developments.
County Health Director Rich Bullough said Ure had a point, and noted he had apologized to several Mayors after the mask order was announced.
But he told the Board that the masks are essential to manage the spread of the coronavirus, and to avoid a situation where businesses have to go back to an orange or even a red emergency status.
“I can say until I’m blue in the face, that one of the reasons masks is important is to protect—when you were at dinner, and you were talking with the business owner, by not having customers come in with masks, he is putting his employees at risk,” Bullough said. “And that is what is driving the decision. But that conversation—you’re spot on, it needs to occur at a different level. We recognize that, and we are working on doing better. In fact, we’ve got a Council of Governments coming up. We’re going to talk with the mayors specifically about that, about communications, about the orders that we’ve issued, how they impact the East Side.”