'It's an honor system': Local businesses decide to follow new CDC guidance on masks

How do businesses know people are telling the truth?
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Posted at 6:30 AM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 06:30:08-04

CLEVELAND — At Blue Point Grille in downtown Cleveland you’ll see a variety of people meeting for business or pleasure, and, now, you’ll also see a mix of masked and mask-less.

“We have some people who have masks and some people who don’t and that is true of staff and guests alike,” said Rachel Kolis, the manager at Blue Point Grille.

Blue Pointe Grille, like so many other stores and restaurants, is following CDC guidelines, which states that vaccinated people are allowed to stop wearing masks in certain settings.

“As the sign on the door states we are CDC compliant and it is optional,” said Kolis.

Kolis said they’re going to let people who are vaccinated decide what they’d like to do.

“For some people it’s the first time they’re going into an establishment, taking their masks off, and it’s like watching them get a gift,” she said. “When you are in hospitality, to have that face-to-face connection with somebody, it’s part of the experience and it’s just really awesome for our staff and our guests and have that back.”

Kolis said they will not be asking any of the restaurant’s patrons for proof of vaccination status.

“It is an honor system at this point,” she said. “I’m not in a position to ask you to prove to me you’re a fully vaccinated person.”

It’s the same story at every Winking Lizard location.

“We can’t have a 17 or 18-year-old host going up and asking an adult whether they’re vaccinated or not. It’s just not reasonable,” said John Lane.

Lane is a co-owner of the local restaurant chain. He said they’ve followed every state and CDC order and his staff is thrilled to be able to offer some normalcy to their vaccinated patrons.

“If a guest feels more comfortable wearing their mask, we’re not saying don’t wear your mask, same thing with our staff,” he said

But Sharona Hoffman, a professor of law and bioethics for Case Western Reserve University, said other businesses may require proof of vaccination status.

“People are free to not go into the business if they don’t want to show it, and there’s no law that says businesses can’t ask you for proof that you’ve gotten a vaccine,” she said.

Hoffman is worried that Governor Mike DeWine lifted Ohio's state mask order. She said it could be a slippery slope.

“I think there’s a high likelihood that we have people who have not gotten the vaccine, but they’re also opposed to masks, and they will just walk into stores with no masks because we have no enforcement mechanism,” said Hoffman.

But Lane believes people are truthful and said it is all about personal responsibility.

“By and large, I think the people of the United States follow the rules, so, we have to rely on that,” he said.