MASK MANDATE

Nikki Anderson prepares a chicken Caesar wrap while wearing a mask during lunch hour Thursday in the kitchen at Colby’s Deli and Cafe. The state is lifting the mask mandate Friday for restaurants and allowing the return of 100% seating capacity.

Thursday was the last day of Kentucky’s statewide face mask mandate, and Latisha Palmer was wearing her face mask as she made her way downtown near West Second Street.

Although people are no longer required to wear face masks, Palmer said she will continue.

Palmer said her doctor advised her to not get a COVID-19 vaccination due to pre-existing health problems.

“Just because they lifted it doesn’t mean (COVID cases) were all the way gone,” Palmer said. “I don’t care if they lifted it. I’m not taking mine off.”

Palmer’s stance was uncommon among people asked about the lifting of the mask mandate Thursday.

Most people interviewed said they welcomed the end of the mask mandate.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced last month that the mask mandate would end on June 11.

Also, venues and restaurants are able to return to 100% capacity.

However, masks will still be required for public transportation, K-12 schools, long-term care facilities and other locations that serve the “most vulnerable,” according to Beshear’s May 13 executive order.

Jessica Guerrero, who was also downtown Thursday morning, said she felt the mask mandate was excessive.

“I think there should have been a choice” whether or not to wear a face mask, Guerrero said. “Fear took over everyone, and it went to an extreme.”

Removing the mask requirement “definitely gives you back your freedom,” Guerrero said.

Vickie Lambert, who was showing some friends from out of town the Owensboro riverfront Thursday, said she was happy to see the mandate expire.

“I think people could make their own decisions, and I don’t think government needs to be in the business of mandating things,” Lambert said. “I think people are smart enough to figure things out on their own.”

People should accept one another’s choice on masks, Lambert said.

“I’m certainly not going to judge someone who wears a mask, and I don’t want to be judged for not wearing one,” Lambert said.

The Rev. Rhondalyn Randolph, who was waiting to go on a ride-along with a sheriff’s deputy at the Daviess County Courthouse as part of her Leadership Owensboro class Thursday, said she received a COVID-19 vaccination and often doesn’t wear a mask.

“I have gotten a little bit comfortable, and with every opportunity I get, I take the mask off,” Randolph said.

“I understand the apprehension of some people wanting to keep the mask in place,” Randolph added.

Consideration should be given to people can’t be vaccinated, or chose to not get a vaccination and children under age 12, Randolph said.

Currently, vaccinations are only approved for people 12 years old and up.

“We have to consider other people, but I want to have the flexibility to not wear the mask,” Randolph said. Later, Randolph said, “I feel blessed to take advantage of the opportunity to be vaccinated.”

Palmer, who is a manager at a local restaurant, said masks are still required for herself and her employees. While the state’s mask mandate is ending, Palmer said she would be reluctant to go to a large crowed event like Friday After 5.

“You don’t know who has got the shot and who hasn’t,” Palmer said.

Candance Castlen Brake, president and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, said the lifting of the mask requirement “will continue the building of excitement we are seeing with business owners and the public.”

She added that businesses are looking to expand. No businesses have expressed trepidation about the mask mandate expiring, Brake said.

“The general thing we are hearing is, ‘we’re ready. We’re excited,’ ” Brake said.

Lauren Bickel, who was relaxing at a table at Lazy Dayz Playground Thursday afternoon, said it was “about time” the mask mandate was lifted, adding that she doubted if masks helped protect against the virus.

“It might have helped with the flu,” Bickel said.

The mask requirement seemed like overreach, Bickel said.

“I think the government outstripped its (authority) in a number of ways, especially in ‘Blue’ states like Kentucky,” Bickel said.

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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