For the first time since August, Santa Clara County residents don’t have to wear masks indoors. Businesses in Downtown Mountain View are already overwhelmingly embracing the new recommendation as a step towards normalcy.
“I think it’s a good idea to be optional,” said Willie, a Poke Bar employee, on the day the mask mandate was lifted.
He said mask wearing largely comes down to personal comfort level: Some people don’t want to wear them, while others are more cautious. As an employee, though, he’s still required to wear a mask.
“I’m comfortable with [the mask mandate lift] because a majority of people are vaccinated, and I’ve been in restaurants where we did have to take our masks off already,” said Laura, a Bloomsgiving employee.
Currently, 84.9% of Santa Clara County residents are fully vaccinated and 68.6% have also received the booster shot, according to the county health department.
“When I think about wearing a mask, I think about keeping people safe. My mom, she’s diabetic, so that makes her a lot more at risk,” said Jake, an Icicles employee. “Personally, I like wearing a mask, but I can understand that it’s within somebody else’s right [to not wear a mask]. I’m not going to be upset [with] them.”
Other businesses, like Books Inc., are erring on the side of caution. The bookstore opted to maintain its masking requirement, which Glen, the store manager, said was for the safety of both customers and staff — and because the store receives many visits from children, who are not eligible for the vaccine.
Glen also said that the policy is subject to change, and the store will drop the mask requirement when it sees fit. Books Inc. had also previously continued to enforce masking and social distancing when state restrictions had briefly relaxed this summer.
Still, paired with closed streets and outdoor seating, the lack of a mask requirement brings a sense of normalcy to Castro St.
“It’s nice to see that restrictions are getting lifted and things are getting back to normal,” said Dylan, a Paris Baguette employee.