As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reports, for the first time in 394 days, masks are optional at Connecticut Stew Leonard’s stores for fully vaccinated customers.
“I know today is the day! And Stew Leonard is number one to give it up,” said shopper Betty Mansy.
But workers must continue to facemask, even if fully vaccinated. That decision will be reevaluated after Memorial Day.
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“We’re really just taking this day by day, and we’re seeing what our customers are saying and our team members are saying as well,” said Blake Leonard of Stew Leonard’s.
Mask policies are a mixed bag in Connecticut. Acme Market and Five Guys continue to require them, while Noelle Salon in Stamford is allowing fully vaccinated customers and staff to go unmasked.
“I am certainly celebrating today. I think this has been a long time in the making and really looking forward to cutting hair without an ear loop around the ears, to make sure they have the best haircut — and also to see their faces. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen my customers’ faces and I’m really looking forward to seeing them smile again,” Jason DiCaprio added.READ MORE: Now That They Can Fully Reopen, What's The New Normal Like At Big Amusement Parks?
The salon is seeing a boost in business as people plan parties and events.
Stylist Lisa Astolfi was cutting and clipping without a covering on her face.
“It’s so exciting. It’s such a relief. I feel like we’ve all been waiting for this. It’s been a long year,” she said.
Stephanie LaPointe said she didn’t realize the new rule was in effect and couldn’t wait to remove her mask.
“It just felt like opening a present, actually, yes!” she said.
Employees are required to provide proof of vaccination, but for customers, it is the honor system. And if a customer asks a vaccinated stylist to mask up?
“I’m here to do whatever makes my clients most comfortable, so if that’s me putting on a mask, I’m willing to do that, for sure,” Astolfi said.
Serafina in Stamford is also seeing that business boost, now that outdoor and indoor capacity limits have been lifted. Until Wednesday, the massive 530 person ballroom could only host events for up to 100.MORE NEWS: New York Celebrates End Of COVID Restrictions With Fireworks Honoring Essential Workers
“Most wedding venues and social venues like ours shut down during the pandemic, so today’s date is a new beginning for us,” said Serafina Executive Director John Hoch.