Mason businesses face the reality of mask mandates

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For his entire life, Ed Reeser has been adamant about individual rights.

Reeser said he believes the government should not have a say over what people can and cannot do in their personal lives, but he is adamant that the executive order requiring masks is a great decision,  

On July 13 a state-wide mandate requiring masks in public was put into effect by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. In Mason, citizens and businesses are adjusting once again to a new normal because of COVID-19.

Throughout the summer, businesses in Mason have had the ability to choose if masks are required and. Business managers, like Craig Wieferich, general manager of the Eldorado Golf Course in Mason, were put in a tough position regarding masks.

“If it were up to me, everyone would’ve been wearing masks from day one,” said Wieferich. “But our clients did not want to wear masks and we were already in the hole for the year. The change is good and our customers seem to be OK with it besides a few random people here and there.”

Eldorado Golf Course mask sign

Other places in Mason such as Kean’s and the Maple Street Mall have required masks since they reopened their doors at the beginning of June. Teresa Wren, the owner of Keans, said that the executive order did not impact her business at all because they have always had the requirement.

Despite the acceptance of the new rule by business owners in Mason, dozens of citizens in Mason are adamant that the new mask rule is infringing on their personal rights, and they should not be required to wear a mask in public.

John Heckaman, a lifetime Mason resident, said he staunchly against the mandatory mask rule, like many of his other friends in Mason that are a part of a motorcycle club in Mason.

“I think asking businesses to enforce this order is ridiculous,” said Heckaman. “I think it puts untrained people into confrontational situations that should be avoided.  However, having actual uniformed officers or having to pay for security to enforce this is also a waste of resources.”

Deb Wright, the city manager for Mason, said they have received dozens of calls from Mason citizens regarding the new mask rule. Wright said that many of the complaints are usually just angry tirades about the politics of masks, rather than complaints that businesses were not enforcing the rule. Wright said that they have not gotten a report of a Mason business that is serving customers without masks as well through the first week of the executive order.

“I’ve gone to Bad Brewing a few times since the executive order was passed and everyone was following the rules,” said Reeser. “I was kind of shocked that many people in Mason were willing to follow the rules at the bar.”

There has not been a release from the governor’s office regarding the end of the executive order, and businesses in Mason are getting ready to finish the year with mask requirements.

“I think that we will require masks for the rest of 2020,” said Wieferich. “The golf course is open until October, and I think we will be wearing masks for longer than that.”

“We will be requiring masks for as long as we can protect our employees and customers,” said Wren. “I have no clue when that will happen. We are just waiting for now.”

Heckaman and others against the mask mandate will have to be patient, but according to Heckaman, that is not a problem for him at all.

“I will not wear a mask in public, and I won’t be forced to,” said Heckaman.

“There are plenty of places that have the same feelings about masks that I do, and I can go to those stores instead.”

For example, the Dollar Tree grocery store chain announced that they will not require masks or face coverings in their stores nationwide. The Dollar Tree in Mason declined to comment on its store policy but could be a possible battleground for the mask debate in Mason.

Businesses that do not follow the mask mandate face potential punishment from the Michigan attorney general’s office and could lose the rights to serve food and alcohol if it is a restaurant.

“We make most of our money off of alcohol,” said Wieferich. “We cannot afford to lose our liquor license so everyone we serve at the course will have a mask guaranteed.”

For individuals who refuse to follow the guidelines of the executive order, they could face misdemeanor charges and a fine.

“I am not worried at all about the fines or possible charges,” Heckaman said. “This order is not constitutional, and so any charges will also be unconstitutional.”

Wright said that she believes that the argument over masks will only get more hostile moving forward. She said that she thinks many people in Mason believe that the community is safe from the virus despite the deaths of Mason residents to the hands of COVID-19.

“The first few weeks of the mandate should be relatively smooth,” said Wright. “I am just worried about what is going to happen in the fall when school and sports return and force people together again.”

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