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New mask guidance causing confusion for some Washington businesses

Whether to require customers to wear masks is now in the hands of business owners, versus the state, and many are handling the new guidance differently.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The change in mask recommendations from health and state officials put Olympia hair salon owner Jamie Lee in a tough spot.

"I liked it better when I didn't have to be the bad guy,” said Lee, who has been cutting hair at Jamie Lee & Company for more than 20 years.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, said those who have been fully vaccinated no longer have to wear masks in public places or in businesses.

Inslee said it's up to individual business owners as to whether they want to require masks of all their customers. 

Lee said for the time being, she is continuing to require her clients and employees keep their masks on when they’re in her salon.

“It’s confusing,” said Lee, “I liked it better when things were black and white.”

Inslee said Thursday that business owners can decide how, or if, to enforce mask usage for those who have been vaccinated.

Nicole Andres, owner of Nicole’s Bar in Olympia, said she won’t require her customers to wear masks if they say they have been fully vaccinated.

She is not requiring her employees to ask customers for proof of vaccination.

According to the Washington Hospitality Association, business owners can choose to let their fully vaccinated employees and customers not wear masks. 

Well 80 Brewhouse owner Chris Knudson said he won’t be changing the rules, at least until July, when Inslee said the state is expected to remove all COVID-related restrictions on businesses.

"I'm not really interested in hiring a bouncer to stand at the door to check vaccine cards,” said Knudson.

He said he’s prepared for customers to be upset about having to wear masks even when the state is not requiring it.

“If they don’t want to, that’s fine. We can make their food to go,” said Knudson.