Local businesses and health officials react to lifting of universal masking order


The universal mask mandate order has been lifted in Pennsylvania after more than a year of masking up.

This comes after the Department of Health saw 75% of adults in the state received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

We spoke with area businesses and healthcare facilities to see where they stand with the maskless policy.

El Amigo Mexican Grill Restaurant said that anyone can come in maskless by choice, but the healthcare facilities we spoke to said they are still sticking with mandating masks.

It’s a view of no mask in site.

“Oh no not anymore,” said Michael Alvarez, Server at El Amigo Mexican Restaurant.

El Amigo Mexican Grill lifted their mask policy after sensing things are getting back to what they say is normal.

Now the masking order has been lifted throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania.

Alvarez said that even though their policy is much more relaxed that it was during the beginning of the masking order in April of 2020, it’s up to the customers hands to wear a mask or not.

Alvarez said that the management just wants customers to feel comfortable.

“There are still tables still close to each other and of course if they’re not comfortable sitting close to one another’s table, all they have to do is ask us to sit them somewhere else,” said Alvarez.

Although businesses like El Amigo are happy to lift the mask mandate, there are hospitals that are sticking with their policy.

“So staff working in the hospital and all visitors and patients coming in ask to wear a mask. They’re asked to wear it through their whole time in the facility and that again is for their safety,” said Emily Shears, Director of Operations at UPMC Hamot.

Millcreek Community Hospital is following the same lead.

The chief operating officer of the community hospital said that Erie County is still at 59.4% of the vaccinated population. He said that if they go maskless in the facility, then it will increase the health risk.

“Although the June 28th deadline has arrived, we never hit that 70% of the population being fully vaccinated,” said Marcus Babiak, Chief Operating Officer at Millcreek Community Hospital.

St. Vincent Hospital said they are also sticking with the mask order.

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