Iowa City businesses respond to mayor’s mask mandate

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 6:21 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa City businesses are having mixed reactions to Mayor Bruce Teague’s mask mandate proclamation.

Teague declared a civil emergency on Thursday to issue a mask mandate in the city. The mayor said he made the order because of the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Defy Iowa City, an indoor trampoline park, made masks optional for their customers.

“We can’t win,” Anne Berkenpas, the location’s general manager, said. “So we choose to not battle.”

Berkenpas said she’s tired of going back and forth with customers.

“People are very opinionated on whether they do or whether they don’t, so we have arguments every day on both sides,” Berkenpas said. “We get bad reviews every day on both sides.”

Berkenpas said that she thinks Teague’s mandate only applies to individuals, and not businesses.

“Our governor has stated that she’s not going to mandate it,” Berkenpas said. “So we are not, we’re doing what we need to do inside our four walls to maintain safety, cleanliness. Our staff wears masks, but we’re not here to be a mitigator for what is or what isn’t for any families.”

In contrast, Avenson Salon never stopped requiring masks. They said they need the extra protection with them being so physically close to their clients. They support Teague’s mask mandate, even for the vaccinated.

“I also need to make sure that I keep myself, my staff, and my family safe,” Melissa Gifford, the salon’s owner, said. “So in doing so with the mask, I feel like it’s just equal playing field.”

Staff at Defy Iowa City just hope people do the right thing.

“People know what’s best for their families,” Berkenpas said. “We’re not here to dictate that unless the mayor enforces it for us.”

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