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Some Kansas Citians Still Want To Wear Masks, Even Though It's Not Required

Blackhole Bakery is following the CDC's guidelines, and dropped their face mask requirement this weekend.
Jodi Fortino
KCUR 89.3
Blackhole Bakery, following updates guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, dropped their face mask requirement this weekend. Still, many customers chose to wear masks.

People who are still choosing to wear masks cite social pressure, children and unvaccinated people as some of the chief reasons for the added precaution.

Many Kansas City residents are continuing to mask up despite much of the Kansas City area dropping mask mandates.

Kansas City repealed its emergency mask order Friday, following the Centers for Disease Control’s announcement that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places.

Jason Provo, owner of Blackhole Bakery on Troost Ave., says he’s been relying on the CDC’s guidance throughout the pandemic and decided to follow suit when Kansas City also announced changes.

Still, dropping the mask requirement wasn’t an easy decision for Provo.

“We've taken it very seriously since day one. I mean, we've closed a few times because we were scared somebody had COVID, so this wasn't a small thing. It wasn't a small decision, but I just kind of felt like it was time,” Provo said.

The bakery will continue other health precautions like frequent sanitization and sticking to an occupancy limit.

Provo said nearly all of his customers Saturday morning wore masks, and he doesn’t see that changing soon.

“We're all adults. If you feel like you need to wear a mask still, I totally understand that," Provo said. "I'm still going to wear a mask when I go out in public, and I expect that most of my customers will too for a very long time.”

Brookside resident Maria Dickson stood in line outside Blackhole Bakery on Saturday, ready to put her mask on once she stepped inside.

She said she’s comfortable following the new guidelines but thinks others might lose the messaging behind it.

“I just hope the messaging is clear that it's for fully vaccinated people. So I hope that that's how people follow it and continue to keep everybody safe. We are still in a pandemic,” Dickson said.

Nearly 40% of the Missouri population has received one shot, according to a state website. Around 32% have received both doses.

Dickson said she’s being cautious by wearing a mask because she has young children that are unable to be vaccinated yet.

Amanda Lyons, a teacher from the Waldo area, said she was nervous when news broke that the mandate would be dropped.

“I'm vaccinated, and I'm not really concerned for myself. I’m more concerned about people who aren't vaccinated taking off their masks (and) for people who are a little bit more susceptible and children,” Lyons said.

As a teacher, Lyons said she stays informed on infection rates and statistics. She said after numbers spiked last summer that she’s concerned there could be another outbreak.

“It worries me that with people taking off masks we might see an uptick when people are indoors,” Lyons said.

Nearly all customers at Messenger Coffee wore their face masks while in line Saturday morning.
Jodi Fortino
KCUR 89.3
Nearly all customers at Messenger Coffee wore their face masks while in line Saturday morning.

Other residents out this weekend weren’t as keen to wear their masks indoors.

Shelly Thomason, a customer at Messenger Coffee on Grand Blvd., said she hoped she wouldn’t have to wear a mask this weekend.

“Our government has said we can lift the mask mandate, and yet people still act like we have to be as terrified as we were a year ago,” Thomason said.

Thomason, who has been fully vaccinated since earlier this year, said she trusts the CDC’s guidelines and the efficacy of the vaccines.

“I just feel like we're still hiding from what, how far we've come. If you're vaccinated, and you're not sick, you're not running at temperature, I just feel like it should be our decision.”

Messenger Coffee leadership said they are following local health authority guidelines and allowing fully vaccinated customers to take off their masks indoors.

Employees will be required to wear a mask until a system is in place to check their vaccination status, according to the statement.

Despite the policy change, Thomason kept her mask on while inside the coffee shop. She said there’s a social stigma that comes with not wearing a mask.

A sign at the City Diner in the Rivermarket area asks customers to wear a mask before entering. A manager at the restaurant said they'll now be leaving the decision up to customers.
Jodi Fortino
KCUR 89.3
A sign at the City Diner in the River Market asks customers to wear a mask, but a manager at the restaurant said now they will be leaving the decision up to customers.

Sheila Goff, a customer at City Diner in the River Market, said she also wore her mask out of social obligation.

“I kind of think I wear (it) out of peer pressure really, because I don't want people looking at me like, why aren't you wearing your mask?” Goff said.

Goff said most places still required customers to wear a mask, but she did notice some people not wearing one.

A sign on the door at City Diner asks customers to wear a mask before entering, but a manager at the restaurant said they were following the CDC’s guidelines and leaving the decision up to the customers.

David Stein, another City Diner customer, said he was uncomfortable seeing some customers not wearing masks indoors this week. He said he disagreed with Kansas City’s move to rescind their emergency order.

“I think that there are still a lot of folks that didn't want to get vaccinated, didn't get vaccinated, and to drop that all together, that just gives them some more leverage to just do what they want to do, regardless of anybody else,” Stein said.

Stein said he expected to be wearing a face mask indoors until next year, and he plans to always wear one now when in public places.

“I wish they would have kept it on a little bit longer, but it is what it is,” Stein said.

More than ever, education lies at the intersection of equity, housing, funding, and other diverse issues facing Kansas City’s students, families and teachers. As KCUR’s education reporter, I’ll break down the policies driving these issues in schools and report what’s happening in our region's classrooms. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.
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