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Santa Barbara business owners react to new mask mandate in SB County

Angel Russell
Beginning 5 p.m. Friday, all residents age 2 and older will be required to wear a face covering indoors

In response to rising COVID cases, Santa Barbara County has announced that masks will be required indoors at all public spaces — regardless of vaccination status — starting Friday at 5 p.m.

“I saw it coming, I think everybody saw it coming," Katrina Carl with the Santa Barbara Museum of Art said. "I think given the recent COVID numbers, I think everybody was anticipating it.”

Carl said they aren’t waiting for the official mandate to take effect Friday evening, and are already mandating guests to wear a mask to enter. 

“Our signage is out, our visitor services are aware," Carl said. "Maybe some people will be caught off guard, but we’ll have masks for them.”

Guido Oppizzi, owner of Oppi’z Bistro and Natural Pizza, already has his staff wearing masks and gloves. He said it’s a relief to have the mask mandate back.

“What's happened in the last year and now, should demonstrate how useful the mask is," Oppizzi said. "And how...let me say, unfair it is not to wear a mask. Because you risk your life, and you risk other people's lives.”

Oppizzi said he’s been seeing news about some businesses requiring guests to show their vaccination card in order to dine at an establishment, and he’s debating doing the same. 

“We are fully vaccinated," Oppizzi said. "And we expect our guests, that if they want to dine in, to be fully vaccinated.”

It’s a business dilemma, Oppizzi said, because he knows there is still a large amount of the population not vaccinated, so he may lose customers by asking for proof of vaccination. 

“But, I believe it is better to protect a more wise customer, and continue to stay alive as a restaurant, than to get the very last customer and risk the business,” Oppizzi said.

A few businesses, who did not want to be interviewed by KCBX News, said they were not in favor of mandating customers to wear a mask, but will enforce the mandate as best they can so they don’t get cited for code violation.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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