Business, customers react to Taney County mask resolution

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 9:23 PM CDT
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On Friday, the Taney County Health Department gave a recommendation that everyone should be required to wear a mask.

The Taney County Health Department Board passed a

in support of universal masking at all indoor public spaces in the county. It is not a mandate, but a recommendation for citizens.

Making everyone wear a mask wouldn't change things at a place such as Silver Dollar City, as the theme park requires masks. But other places would have to make some changes.

Walk up to Dick's 5 & 10 in historic downtown Branson, and you'll be offered a mask.

"We're being very, very proactive to make sure we're doing everything we need to make sure our staff and our customers feel like they're safe," said Steve Hartley, the co-owner of Dicks 5 & 10.

The store hands out sanitizer and limits the number of guests inside. For now, you don't have to accept one item in particular.

"We're not requiring our guests to wear a mask," Hartley said. "But we are offering them for free. If they would like to come in the store, we're offering them. "

That could change in Branson and across all of Taney County. Late Friday afternoon, the county's health department board issued a statement saying it supports face coverings for everyone inside any public, indoor space.

"We support anything that is going to aid in the stop of this virus, and if our county health leaders believe this is going to accomplish that, we support that 100 percent," Hartley said.

Taney County's Health Department has cause for concern: it's seen confirmed cases triple in the past month, reporting 43 cases as of Friday.

"I just feel like if everyone is more comfortable with them, they should definitely wear them and not be looked at like 'oh my god, something is wrong with them because they have a mask on,'" said customer June Ernst.

Ernst said Dicks 5 & 10 is the only store she wore a mask in Friday afternoon because of the possibility of it being a crowded place.

Others aren't so sure they want the government issuing a sweeping order.

"I think it's up to people what they want to do it or not, just like me. I don't have one on, and you do, so it's just a choice I guess," said another customer, Annette Harvison.

One passerby, James Murphy, said he travels a lot for work, so he had already thought about the idea of mask requirements.

"No, I don't think anyone should be [required]," Murphy said.

Both Murphy and Harvison said if business were to require a mask, it would not deter them from going in.

"I do go in businesses that do require it, I keep one in my purse for that," Harvison said.

The Health Department hopes people understand their recommendation is about ensuring Taney County doesn't have to take a step back in the near future.

"The last thing we need is to have a close down again and go through what we went through a few months ago for 50 days," said Hartley.

Again, this is just a resolution the board put out. The county is not requiring masks at this time, but health leaders are strongly urging you wear one inside public places.

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