CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – Recently , Mayor Jim Coppinger announced that the Hamilton County mask mandate would expire at the end of the month, leaving businesses to decide for themselves. Local businesses spoke to News 12 about how this decision will impact them.
Some restaurants, like Tazikis, say they trust the county’s decision but their restaurants won’t be making any changes right now.
“Were going to keep all those policies in place that we have been doing for the past year. We are super thankful for the progress that has been made and getting us back to some sense of normalcy but the health and safety of our staff is always going to be our top priority so until we are 100% sure that we don’t need those precautions, we are not going to risk them,” says Keytoya Brooks, Director of Market and Catering at Tazikis.
Owner of the New York Pizza Department says his business will no longer enforce masking for a couple of different reasons.
“I’m not going to require them to wear it due to the fact of what we went through last year. My ambient air because the pizza ovens are at 600 degrees so it’s about 100 degrees ambient temperatures. So it’s super hot and hard to breathe in there. Logically it makes no sense that someone has to wear a mask to walk in the door but then when they sit down at a table they can take their masks off,” says Erik Cilen , Owner of The New York Pizza Department.
One of Chattanooga’s staples, the Tennessee Aquarium, says this isn’t a decision they are taking lightly and they are still weighing the factors.
“Everything we have done is for safety for our guests, staff and volunteers. We just want to make sure we are proceeding properly. The first step is to make sure all of our employees that wish to get vaccinated are fully vaccinated before we make any changes to our policies and procedures,” says Thom Benson, Communications for the Tennessee Aquarium.