Mask Up Duluth: businesses weigh in on new mandate

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 7:12 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN -- Just hours after Duluth announced a citywide indoor mask mandate, local businesses are preparing to enforce it in different ways.

At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe, in Duluth’s Chester Park neighborhood, has had a mask mandate in place since the start of the pandemic.

Carla Blumberg who works for the restaurant said they’ve trusted the advice of medical experts to keep their workers and their patrons safe.

“I don’t have any emotional feelings about the issue and I don’t have any political feelings about the issue. It’s just a straightforward thing of us trying to reduce contagion,” she said.

In the past, their cafe has faced backlash for its mandate.

Blumberg said people will come in and cause disturbances over the mandate, ruining the dining experience of her other customers.

“In a way, I just feel sorry for them. I feel like if your goal is to go out to eat and have a nice meal with your family, anything that disrupts that is too bad,” she said.

Now that the city has enacted its own mandate, Blumberg hopes those individuals can deflect their energy to the city.

“They can’t blame us personally. That’s what they do, they blame us personally,” she said.

She believes the city made the right move, despite the pushback she’ll likely face.

“I think there are gonna be some businesses that just don’t follow it, but I think the mayor made the right choice because reason is on her side,” said Blumberg.

Not all businesses share Blumberg’s sentiment.

Debby Strop, the owner of Uncle Loui’s Cafe, thinks the community needs to move past the pandemic and carry on with their normal lives.

“I don’t think this is necessary. I don’t think this is any more of a variant than Delta was or the original. It’s just a variant,” she said.

She believes anyone that’s done their part shouldn’t need to wear a face mask indoors.

“If you are fully vaccinated and you are comfortable going into public places then you shouldn’t have to be masked,” said Strop.

Despite a steady customer base at her own business, Strop worries for other businesses in the area.

She thinks the mask mandate might force some to shop outside of Duluth.

“All it’s going to do now is send them to Superior or Cloquet or Hermantown because there are no mask mandates anywhere around us,” she said.

Both businesses plan to enforce the mandate despite their personal views on the issue.

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