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Downtown business group says ending health order comes with mixed reactions

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Coronavirus health orders covering Columbia and Boone County are set to expire at noon Wednesday, ending a 14-month period with orders in place.

Nickie Davis, executive director of Columbia's Downtown Community Improvement District, said in an email that while many businesses are eager for the health order to end, others are worried it may lead to rising coronavirus cases and another lockdown.

Davis said many businesses will still ask their customers to wear a mask and her organization is advising residents to check in with a business before going there.

The executive director says many businesses are waiting to make a decision, to see what case statistics look like two weeks following the removal of the health order in Columbia.

Several Columbia businesses are posting about precautions they're taking on their social media pages. Many say they will still require masks inside their businesses.

One business, Green Meadows Hair Co. & Spa says they will keep all of their current guidelines in place, including requiring masks and social distancing.

Constance Parker, owner of Green Meadows said the business will follow CDC guidelines which still recommend masks for salons and spas.

Parker said there has only been a single customer that hasn't wanted to wear a mask and that most are understanding, even appreciative of the measures taken.

Hairdresser Nancy Wilson said many clients come to her because of the safety measures taken in Green Meadows.

"We've sterilized and cleaned and worked and done everything that we could to make it work, so why would you not go ahead now and continue on?" Wilson added.

Columbia had been under a mask requirement since last summer, when the city council approved the mandate. The health department later incorporated the mask requirement into health orders and extended it to all of Boone County.

The county and city have been under orders since March 20, 2020 -- a few days after the state's first coronavirus-related death was reported in Boone County.

City and county leaders said last week that the low number of new coronavirus cases and the high rate of vaccination in Boone County support the decision to let the health orders expire. In addition to a mask mandate, the orders required businesses to use social distancing.

Officials justified the orders as a way to lessen the strain on local hospitals, which were treating dozens of coronavirus patients during the height of the pandemic. Only two Boone County residents were hospitalized as of Tuesday with COVID-19 and the average number of daily cases was at nine, according to the county's coronavirus dashboard.

The Columbia/Boone County health department said Wednesday it is still encouraging residents and businesses to keep using coronavirus precautions such as social distancing and mask wearing.

Boone / Columbia City Government / Coronavirus / Local News / News / Politics / Public Health Alert / Top Stories / Video
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Ben Fein

Ben Fein is a multimedia journalist for ABC 17 News. You can usually see his reports on weekend mornings or weekdays at 5, 6 and 6:30 p.m. on KMIZ.

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