Mask or No Mask? Prince George's Residents, Businesses Navigate Post-Mandate

"It's nice to see everyone's faces"

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To mask or not to mask? That's the question in Prince George's County, Maryland, after county officials lifted the indoor mask mandate Monday.

The rules and reaction are now dependent upon the place as business owners, workers and customers make decisions on how to proceed.

At the University of Maryland, where masks are now optional in most spaces, some students aren’t ready to let them go just yet.

"I just want to protect myself. Everyone has their own choice whether to wear the mask or not, but me, personally, I still want to wear it," student Nahon Zeleke said.

Others are quickly moving on.

"It's nice to see everyone's faces. That's a part I did miss," student Andrew Kostler said.

Masks are required in classrooms and most instructional settings. People who are positive for COVID-19 must continue mask, but it's optional at athletic events, in dining halls and dorms.

"Indoors I still try to wear it and wear it in the resident hall I live in," student Wayne Hudley said.

At Franklins restaurant and brewery in Hyattsville, diners have the option to mask, but the staff will continue wearing theirs for the next few weeks.

"A lot of our customers, honestly, have been saying they can't wait until we're out of masks so they can see our smiling faces again," Franklins' owner Mike Franklin said. "So we will deal with whatever changes come our way."

Customers News4 spoke to said they're happy to have the option while dining,
but don't plan on being maskless everywhere just yet.

"Restaurants are a little different because you have to eat, but I prefer to wear a mask
especially in stores and stuff like that. Whenever possible, I prefer continuing to wear a mask," customer Dave Roeder said.

At Franklins General Store, neither customers or workers are required to wear masks.

"When we had the conversation in the store that we really didn't have to wear masks anymore I was like, 'OK,'" store employee Jael Patterson said.

As many are getting used to literally breathing a little easier, it's clear COVID has changed some things that might never be the same.

"There's been permanent changes I feel like in how people experience restaurants," Franklin said. "Our carry out is three-times what it used to be and we think that will slow down a little and always be bigger than it used to be."

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