It’s unique shops like the “Olde Red Saltbox” in Niantic that keep customers coming back for more. You never know what’s around the next corner. But when the store expanded its size, the pandemic had other plans.
“We just opened the other side here March 1st and 12 days later, we got the edict that everybody close down,” said Bob Roush, whose wife owns the store.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new mask recommendations add another layer of complexity for store owners in New London County, New Haven and Hartford counties.
To make customers mask up or not? After all, it’s just a suggestion.
NBC Connecticut spoke with business owners along Main Street in Niantic before Connecticut’s Department of Public Health urged these counties to follow the CDC’s recommendations.
“It’s tough, we’re just getting back to a little bit of normalcy, finally everyone’s coming back out again, and now, we’re back to it again,” said Melinda Graus, owner of Gumdrops and Lollipops.
“We go with the flow. If the governor says we have to wear them indoors, we’ll wear them. We did it last time,” said Roush.
While they say shoppers' and staff’s safety are of the utmost importance, they’ll be leaving the decision up to their customers.
Ledge Light Health District’s director of health hopes businesses go forward and follow the recommendations.
“Yeah, I think that’s the most important thing to do now. We want to make sure that the delta variant, or any other variant that rears its head, is nipped in the bud.”
Mystic and the Greater Norwich Chamber of Commerce tell NBC Connecticut that businesses they’ve heard from are waiting to see if the governor makes this a mandate.
“There’s just this not knowing exactly how it’s going to move forward, so I can feel the anxiety with the businesses,” said executive director of the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce, Angela Adams.
After what’s already been a tough year and a half, Adams asks, what store is going to want to chance mandating something that might not please all of their customers?
Meanwhile, while customers browse the Old Red Saltbox they ask if they should mask up,
“Now since it’s not mandatory, I’m telling those people it’s your choice,” said Roush.