REDMOND, Wash. — First the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and now Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is asking Americans to once again “mask up” regardless of their vaccination status in many parts of the country and state.
With mask guidance quickly changing, many in the restaurant industry in western Washington anticipated a mask mandate or a potential rollback of coronavirus-era restrictions could be on the horizon.
“I think there is always going to be a little bit of insecurity because we went through a pandemic, we’re still going through it,” said Katie Stewart, a bartender at Palmers East in Redmond.
One month since coronavirus restrictions were lifted in Washington state and many restaurants, like Palmers, are finally enjoying a little momentum.
Inslee did not issue a mask mandate during a press conference Wednesday, instead he followed the lead set by the CDC Tuesday and reiterated their recommendation that Washingtonians once again wear masks to help prevent the spread of the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.
“I do not want to shut down a single business in the state of Washington. That's painful for everybody," Inslee said. "I want people to enjoy freedom of their lives. And I'm doing everything I can to preserve freedom in their lives by getting people vaccinated."
The big difference this go-around is that people have the power to choose whether to wear a mask, but some say that means people may not follow the recommendation.
“If it’s required people are going to do it, but if it’s not and it’s the person’s choice, I think it will probably be 50/50,” said Darlene, who was enjoying lunch in downtown Redmond Wednesday.
Though to date it’s the minority of the state that is unvaccinated. Most people in Washington state, 70% as of two weeks ago, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the state's Department of health.
A group that’s eager to get out and enjoy life -- case in point, a busy lunch crowd in Redmond. A group that's being asked to mask up again – but will they?
“I know a lot of people are politics and we get a lot arguments, everybody does, but at the end of the day everyone just wants to be safe and secure,” Stewart said.