Brookings business owners, residents talk about first week of mask mandate

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BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s been one week since Brookings City Council members put a mandatory mask policy in place. People we talked with still have strong feelings about the ordinance and some business owners say they’re caught right in the middle.

Business owner Jim Langland opened the Brookings Furniture Company on March 11, right before COVID-19 hit.

“The first two weeks were fantastic and then as soon as the first week in April is when things kind of went south,” said Langland.

Langland is struggling to recover from the loss of business. He says the mandatory mask ordinance has split his customers right down the middle.

“We’re seeing probably fifty percent masks and fifty percent non masks. People with non masks are making it very clear that they don’t intend to wear masks,” said Langland.

The Brookings Furniture Company has enough space to allow for social distancing, so customers are not required to wear a mask there. Langland says he’s trying to accommodate everyone.

“My sales staff, I’ve advised that as soon as somebody comes in and are wearing a mask, to please put on a mask.” Langland said.

The effort to make everyone happy isn’t easy because people have strong feelings on the matter.

“I think it should be everyone’s right whether we should wear one or not. I don’t think we should mandate how businesses run their businesses.” David Olso, Brookings resident, said,

“I’m fine with it. Sometimes people just need to have somebody tell them they should wear it to protect others.” Anna Baumiller said,

Langland says he doesn’t like being caught in the middle. He’s just trying to sell furniture and keep his business afloat.

“Sometimes it can affect your business. Well you’re doing this, you’re making your people wear masks, well then I’m not coming into your store and the opposite. You could have the opposite happen. It’s a terrible time right now.”

The Brookings mask ordinance lasts until November 3rd, but the city could take action to extend it.

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