Austin business owners react to new local masking guidance

Photo of a man with a mask holding pottery
Turquoise Trading Post owner Jim Williamson said he will allow guests to choose whether to wear a mask moving forward but recommend them to wear one. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

Turquoise Trading Post owner Jim Williamson said he will allow guests to choose whether to wear a mask moving forward but recommend them to wear one. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

Now that Austin and Travis County's COVID-19 risk level has been lowered to Stage 2 by Austin Public Health, individual businesses can decide whether to require vaccinated people to wear masks on the premises.

Turquoise Trading Post, North Austin jewelry and art shop, is among the local businesses preparing to welcome some patrons without masks. Owner Jim Williamson said his store would continue to encourage masking in the interest of customer and staff safety but not require it.

"For now, we'll keep our signs up requiring masks but just let folks do what they want," Williamson said, adding he would continue to make masks available for free to customers who wanted them and assume unmasked guests are vaccinated.

South First Street gallery Art for the People, on the other hand, will stay the course for the time being.

"At this time we are keeping our policy in place, which is that masks are required, and we're still sanitizing hands," Lynnie Goodman, the gallery's creative director, told Community Impact Newspaper.

Rachelle Fox, who co-owns East Austin restaurants The Cavalier and Wicky's Walkup with her husband, Chadwick Leger, said her team needed more time to consider any policy changes.

"We spent the last year turning on a dime every three days. We want to give ourselves a little more elbow room to get situated," Fox said.

For the time being, patrons at The Cavalier are asked to wear a mask while not sitting at their party's table. The Cavalier is offering patio service along with some indoor seating right now, and in June it plans to bring back bar seating. Fox said the extra time to consider plans is in the interest of making the guests and staff feel safe.

"We cultivated a wonderful vibe of people looking out for one another. I don’t anticipate seeing a lot of pushback or rowdy negative energy," she said.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. A graduate of Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina, Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio before joining Community Impact in Austin.


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