COLUMBIA, MO (KMIZ)
Local businesses have been busier than ever since the pandemic as Lincoln University and The University of Missouri held graduations this weekend.
The CDC announced Thursday, that fully vaccinated individuals would no longer be required to wear masks or social distance indoor or outdoors, as the vaccines have been proven to be effective. The Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services department lifted it's COVID-19 restrictions on the county as apart of allowing the health order to expire, last week.
With lifted restrictions and fully vaccinated individuals now able to enjoy some normalcy, downtown experienced larger crowds than normal with graduation celebrations.
Kymberlee Hunter, Manager of the Gold Bar, says business was extremely busy as the entire bar was almost booked with private graduation parties.
"We’ve had 2 private events due to graduation at the Gold Bar and our rooftop level there was a private event at our middle level there was a private event, and our lower level was open to general admission, and everywhere sold out extremely fast. A lot of people were out they were spending time with their families," said Hunter.
Hunter says after new CDC guidelines were announced for fully vaccinated individuals, the bar changed it's mask requirements. Masks were required for everyone while in the building unless a customer was eating or drinking. The bar has now updated it's requirements, fully vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear masks while in the bar.
"I think that this year they did really have that opportunity to go out and kind of let their hair down. Our employees did wear masks and with the patrons, you know if they were vaccinated they did not have to wear their masks, so of course, we did not police. It’s just kind of like the honor system and we did see some patrons with their masks on and some patrons with their mask off,” said Hunter.
This weekend was the first weekend with the new CDC guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. Some local businesses like The Gold Bar and Silver Ball, have let customers decide whether or not they choose to wear a mask while in the establishment.
"We kind of let it be up to the patrons if they were vaccinated and felt that they were safe then we had no problems doing that, now are staff are vaccinated but we still wanted to kind of show good faith and face to still have them wear their mask,", said Hunter.
Sara Humm with the Columbia/Boone county health department says the department recommends the public to follow CDC guidelines, even visitors who may be in town for graduation celebrations.
"We strongly recommend to follow the CDC guidance that’s not only for individuals or families but businesses and visitors all those people who are in our community we recommend that they follow that CDC guidance which says that you should be wearing a mask if you have not been vaccinated," said Humm.
Humm says the department isn't sure what to expect as far as seeing any rise in case numbers due to more visitors and a more populous downtown this weekend. She says case numbers have continued to remain low and vaccination rates are increasing.
"We’ll always keep an eye on what our case numbers will look like, we’ll continue to watch those and see what those look like making sure we’re keeping an eye on them as far as what to expect we’re always unsure of what might happen just because it’s hard to tell and while we have a good vaccination rate here in Boone county, you know not everyone does in Missouri and with other states as well and so we just continue to encourage folks to follow that CDC guidance, continue washing your hands, and doing those sort of mitigation efforts that we’ve been doing for a while now with what the CDC is suggesting to help prevent the spread especially if people are gathering with other people who aren’t unvaccinated," said Humm.
Boone County has administered 152,370 vaccine doses, of that 71,298 residents have completed the vaccination process. 39.5% of the county's population has completed the vaccination process.
The state has administered 4,306,297 vaccine doses; 2,014,080 Missourians have completed the vaccination process. 32.8% of the state's population has completed the vaccination process.
Check back for more details as this is a developing story and watch ABC 17 News at 9&10.