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Small business owners in Killeen, Harker Heights, Temple, Belton and Salado reacted positively to Bell County’s mask requirement.

Bell County Judge David Blackburn announced Wednesday that, starting Monday, businesses have to require all customers and staff to wear a facial covering while on their premises. Violating the order could result in a fine of up to $1,000 per violation.

Beth Browell, the general manager of Papa’s Cafe, 302 Millers Crossing, in Harker Heights, said wearing masks will help stop the spread of the virus.

“I appreciate that it’s going to help curb this thing and I don’t want to shut down again,” Browell said.

She said that Papa’s Cafe’s sales dropped drastically and they had to layoff 18 employees when they shut down previously because of the coronavirus.

Cullen Mills is the owner of Modern Appliance, 2505 S. Fort Hood St., in Killeen and he said the company is normally able to keep social distancing.

“In a situation like ours we have space and we are not typically overcrowded so we will put some signs up and ask customers to maintain 6 feet social distance,” Mills said.

Michael Potts, vice president of Cochran, Blair & Potts department store in Belton, told FME News Service he knew the mask mandate was coming.

“I knew it was coming but I haven’t really had a chance to even look it over yet,” Potts said.

The 31-year-old said he expects the mandate to be easily enforceable with employees, as the department store already has masks on-site for employees. He added typically five to six employees work at once at the store at 221 E. Central Ave. in Belton.

“We have masks here. We haven’t required them yet but we currently have masks that we can wear,” Potts said. “And we’ve got a fairly large store, so (customers) can be spread out through the whole store.”

Doing what is needed to avoid another shutdown is important for Alma “Jo” Johnson, owner of Pieces By Jo in downtown Temple. Johnson said the last shutdown was particularly hard on her business, 13 S. Second St. in Temple, and is doubtful she can weather another.

“I think it is probably a good thing,” Johnson said. “We are going to have to do something or we are going to have to close down again. We have to do what we can do to protect everyone.”

Amy Young co-owns the Shoppes on Main, 22 N. Main St. in Salado. She said the mask requirement should not be an issue.

“Our employees and staff were already wearing masks, so it’s mandatory for our employees as is. I don’t mind it in my personal opinion. I think it’s doable,” Young, 42, said.

Like Johnson, Young wants to avoid another shutdown.

“I think I’d rather have people wear a mask than have to shut down my business again. That’s the main thing,” the Salado business owner said. “I don’t think a lot of us small businesses can afford to shut down, so if it means we can stay open and hopefully still have the support, especially with the locals. I think we should support it.”

At least one business owner is opposed to a mask requirement.

JD McBride — owner of Fire Base Brewing Company, 8 S. First St. in Temple — said he was opposed to making wearing masks mandatory because he thinks everyone should be able to make their own decisions about their health.

McBride, a veteran, said his respiratory system is already not in good shape after being around burn pits on deployments and wearing a mask could make that worse.

“I am healthy and I feel I should be able to make my own decisions on what my risks are, and I think everyone else should have that same ability,” McBride said. “I don’t think anybody should be forced to do anything that they don’t feel comfortable with.”

The leaders of the Temple and Belton area chambers of commerce want a safe, healthy environment for businesses — and masks are the way to do so.

“If we have to have inconvenience by wearing a mask … in order to preserve the economy, the companies and the community we represent and are a part of ourselves, then so be it,” Temple Chamber of Commerce President Rod Henry said. “It is kind of the lesser of two evils. You kind of do this inconvenient thing now to get control and flatten the curve. It is a small price to pay to keep the economy running.”

Belton area chamber President Randy Pittenger said he will encourage all business owners to follow local and state orders.

“I’m confident that our businesses, they’ve been continuing to follow that,” Pittenger said. “They’ve been adapting over the last three plus months to changing environments so they’re going to continue to adapt and make adjustments to make their stores, restaurants and businesses safe.”

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(1) comment


A County Judge can require or request it BUT he can't mandated it or order it because it's not a LAW !!! And if one is Outside of a place of business like in a parking lot of that business there is no common sense or logic to wear a mask until one goes into the place of business ! There is no need to wear a mask when one is outside and maintaining the 6 ' social distancing rule ! And there is no sense or logic to be wearing a mask when you are inside your car with your girlfriend or wife ! That's just so stupid and ridiculous looking !! Common Sense People !!!

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