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Ozark masking ordinance set to expire on Thursday, businesses adapting

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 9:40 PM CDT
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OZARK, Mo. (KY3) - The masks are coming off in Ozark pretty soon.

The city’s face covering ordinance is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. Once the ordinance is up, businesses can still require customers to wear masks and people can still wear them about freely. The approach may vary from place to place though .

The decision to repeal the masking ordinance was announced on Monday.

“Our reaction to it was very mixed,” Ozark business owner Jeff Van Haveren said.

It was a fairly common response among a few businesses in downtown Ozark. While the signs may soon come down, not every business owner had a “yay” or “nay” reaction.

”There really wasn’t any excitement from us that the mask ordinance was being lifted,” Van Haveren said. “I think for the most part it was confusion and how are we going to proceed.”

Jeff Van Haveren has kept his shop, Hazel’s Flowers, pretty adamant about masking throughout the ordinance. He said he has noticed a bit of a trend lately, however.

”People were starting to come in without their masks,” Van Haveren said. “And we would look at each other and go, well what are we going to do?”

He has been a bit more lenient these last couple of weeks, but stayed pretty strict up until now. Van Haveren is now going to leave the decision up to customers, but has a bit of his own approach to help respect those who still want to wear them.

”We will wear our masks if someone or a group of people come in with a mask and even if an individual who comes in with a mask. I’m going to wear my mask,” he said.

Schools in Ozark are a different story. The masks are not quite coming off yet there. The district is finishing off the year with required face coverings.

Some parents are not so happy about it, but others say it will help in those crowded environments.

”I’m all for it. My kids haven’t been sick at all this year due to colds and stuff because of the cleaning and everything,” Ozark parent Aimee Calvert said. “I love it.”

Out on the streets there may be fewer masks, and indoors Van Haveren said he is hopeful that choice may help push others to shop locally.

”I think we’ve noticed a trickle too where people have been getting off their mark of wearing their masks,” he said. “We’re seeing more people out without their masks. So yes, I think that will help business a bit.”

The city of Ozark asks residents and visitors to be respectful of a business’s decision to require or not require masks.

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