COVID-19 cases are increasing in Montana, and a group of businesses in downtown Bozeman have decided to do something.
“We do have an uptick in cases, and hopefully, this will slow it down. In our industry, we need to show that we’re willing to do our part. But we’ve also got families to feed and that’s important and our employees depend on us to have our doors open,” explained Mike Hope, the owner of the Rocking R Bar.
Hope and almost 30 other bars, restaurants, and alcohol-licensed businesses joined together to make sure their frontline employees wear masks at work.
“It’s a personal decision. So, it’s really up to individuals. I’m not really a big believer in mandates by the government myself. I’d rather do it this way than somebody tell me I have to do it,” Hope said.
The decision started Tuesday and customers have already noticed the difference.
“I think it was different at first after seeing people around town without masks on. It was kind of surprising, but it’s always a good step to take,” said customer Andrew Norman.
And for agreeing businesses, the decision was obvious.
“We need this. We can’t go back right now. We need to keep going and keep our economy going. Keep everybody working right now and live some sort of normalcy and I think we can have that with a mask on,” emphasized Mary Pat Harris, the co-owner of Bozeman Spirits Distillery.
So you will notice a lot more front line employees wearing the masks, but not everyone.
“OSHA guidelines. The kitchens they get to be about 100 to 130 degrees back there. So, it’s not safe for our kitchen employees to wear masks. But the silver lining to that is our air circulation system in those kitchens is always bringing in fresh outside air,” explained Aaron Parker, the owner of Jam! Dave's Sushi and Revelry.
Again, that decision to wear masks as staff in downtown Bozeman is simply an idea and hasn’t been made a requirement.