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As Illinois reinstates mask mandate, Dubuque health officials encourage people to wear masks regardless of vaccination status

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 10:59 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Right in the heart of downtown Galena is Galena Garlic Company, a store that sells garlic, olive oil, blends of spices, among other things.

The store welcomes customers from all around, even as far as India and Japan. However, once vaccinations for COVID-19 picked up, as in many other businesses, staff stopped requiring people to wear a mask, but that changed Monday as Illinois implemented a new mask mandate for everyone two and older regardless of vaccination status.

“So far I have not had any problems,” assistant manager Van Donovan said. “I have had maybe one or two customers come in without a mask on and leave and that is fine, but otherwise everyone else has come in wearing a mask prior to coming in here, so that has been a big relief.”

Although he recognizes it is not ideal, Donovan said it is best for them and other stores to follow the mandate.

”We are a bunch of really small businesses that are trying to stay open, it is a really high population coming in, tourist season,” he explained. “We want to stay open and we can only do that if we are healthy and happy and if the government does not shut our store down or something.”

In Dubuque, on the other side of the bridge, officials cannot enforce mask mandates because of state law. Despite that, Dubuque County public health director Patrice Lambert is encouraging businesses to enforce it within their walls, along with social distancing and constant sanitizing.

”Just to have those social mitigations in place when people do walk in to their businesses, that will help us tremendously cut down this transmission of the Delta variant,” she explained.

Last week, the county reported 145 new positive COVID-19 cases.

With so many people traveling across the bridge, Lambert said having a mask mandate in Illinois could certainly help. She added, though, she hopes the people on this side of the bridge will do their part before things get out of hand.

“If people just make that part of their day, their dress attire, whatever the case may be then we could go from one state to the other and the protocol would be the same,” Lambert mentioned.

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