Denver businesses are back to masks

DENVER — Denver businesses are back in order for masks after the city imposed them again as COVID-19 cases surged.

Along Broadway, businesses already had signs Wednesday morning warning customers that they needed to wear their masks indoors.

At Sugar Bakeshop, owner Natalie Slevin says her employees have continued to wear masks throughout the pandemic because they work with food, but that they relaxed rules for customers when the previous mandate expired.

Now back to the mask mandate, the bakery is trying a cute way to remind customers that masks are a must inside with a reminder written in cookies right on the counter.

“It’s really hard to remind people every time they come in, and I think my staff didn’t sign out of that part of the job,” Slevin said. “Hopefully people will respect us enough that we respect them and wear a mask.”

The last time there was a mask mandate, the bakery lost some customers who didn’t want to comply with the rules, but Sliven says they also gained new customers during that time, so it wasn’t a huge blow to her business.

“Sure, we’ve had some people who were offended,” she said, “and I’m sticking with the fact that we’re a food company and I want to keep the food we give people protected.”

Down the block at Full Afterburner Calzone, co-owner Hilary Shifter says her restaurant is taking things a step further.

In an effort to be as transparent as possible, employees post a copy of their vaccine cards behind the counter to show the safety steps they are taking. They hope that showing goodwill will encourage customers to also do the right thing and follow local instructions.

“I kind of wish everyone would get vaccinated,” Schefter said. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just get over this and move on?”

Calzone has been on Broadway for just over a year after it started as a food truck.

Shifter says the business community along Broadway has been very supportive of each other during the pandemic, particularly in how they navigate back and forth at local ordinances.

“Anything we have questions about like, ‘How do you guys handle this? It’s been a really great resource that we’re just not kind of ourselves,'” said Shifter.

Meanwhile, at Luke & Company Fine Pet Supply, owner Luke Johnson hopes customers will understand and be patient with companies as they return to applying masks.

We don’t really have a choice, we’re just trying to follow the law. We’re not trying to make a political statement, we’re not trying to make a fuss. We’re just trying to follow the law,” Johnson said.

The pet supply store is back in making its employees wear masks even before the local re-authorization. Johnson hopes that Denver agents will be used to disguise that this last mandate won’t matter much.

None of the stores the Denver 7 visited along Broadway said they would only require customers to show their vaccine cards, although this is an option under the Denver mandate.

“I think it’s a really great gesture for the city to try to let people or companies check their vaccination cards if they want to,” Johnson said.

However, he says checking vaccine cards will require an employee to work at the front door at all times, which is stressful for businesses during a labor shortage. It may be inconvenient or intrusive to require clients to prove their vaccination status.

There is also the question of whether vaccination cards will be legitimate because fraudulent cards have appeared across the country recently.

“It puts us in some sort of physical outlet for the vaccine card,” Johnson said. “Here we’re trying to sell pet food, we’re trying to check the legality of the vaccine card, and then if it’s blatantly fake, what do you do?”

For this reason, Johnson says it’s easier to order masks at the store.

At the end of the day all business owners in Denver 7 spoke, while masks aren’t perfect, they’re better than a full shutdown again, so they’ll do whatever it takes to keep their doors open.

“When the last shutdown happened when we opened the building, the damage was catastrophic, and I think both sides on the political scene will tell you we can’t do that again,” Johnson said. “I think for a sane person, that is the only option. You wear the mask.”

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