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Arkansas business owners worry over potentially lifting mask mandate

Some Arkansas business owners are worried about the governor potentially lifting the mask mandate at the end of this month.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Some business owners are worried about the governor potentially lifting the mask mandate at the end of this month.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson went on CNN Sunday night saying he will most likely go through with removing mandatory masks as early as next week. This leaves restaurant owners like Jack Sundell on edge.

"Honestly, it’s difficult already to keep people from misbehaving when it regards mask use even when there is a mask mandate, so we feel supported when there’s a state or local authority that does give a mask mandate," Sundell said.

He plans to keep his own mandate in place at The Root Cafe and Mockingbird if the Governor lifts it, but worries some people may not abide by it.

"A couple weeks ago when the governor just hinted at the idea that the mask mandate would be lifted, we had a patron come that very night and tell us he didn't have to wear a mask anymore," he said. 

"It's just a preview as what's to come when people think that the rule changes, they think they can go wherever and do whatever they want to."

Restaurant workers also could not start getting vaccinated until last week, meaning many of his workers are not even fully vaccinated yet.

"So, a lot of our staff has gotten their first vaccine but a lot of our staff hasn't even gotten their first dose," Sundell said.

Cheyenne Gibson is the owner of the Southern Blonde and Co., .a hair salon in downtown Little Rock. Her staff will be fully vaccinated by the end of this week. But, she too plans to keep masks a requirement.

"I really don't see why we would prematurely drop wearing masks before enough people get vaccinated," Gibson said. "Lots of our clients have been vaccinated which is awesome, but it's not everybody, so we do have to think of everybody."

She hopes Arkansans will be respectful of the businesses who choose to keep their own mandates in place.

"So, sorry if it makes them mad and they go somewhere else, but I have to keep us safe and I have the keep the rest of the clients safe," Gibson said.