Small businesses scramble after Nashville's mask mandate expires

Rosepepper Cantina
Posted at 4:04 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 21:09:10-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — COVID-19 restrictions and the mask mandate were dropped overnight for people who are vaccinated in Nashville.

Now, small businesses are deciding what to do as the community takes steps to rebound. Rosepepper Cantina co-owner Andrea Chaires sent out a text to her employees to gauge their thoughts on it in East Nashville.

Chaires said, "We’re super excited for it, the only thing for my business personally, I have a number of employees in high-risk categories, so they’ve got like severe asthma and things like that."

That's why they're still requiring customers to wear masks while walking to their table and going to the bathroom. "Just because this is our baby, we’re not some corporate giant that’s got people to spare," Chaires said.

Some angry customers already messaged Andrea saying they won't go to her restaurant anymore since she wants them to wear masks. Customer Chris Ray said he will gladly still wear a mask, but he understands it's a divisive topic.

"You’ve always got that blowhard that comes in right? Well, I'm not ever coming back in here again okay? There’s a hundred other people that will take your table!" Ray said, "It is what it is."

Down the street in the Germantown neighborhood, Red Bicycle Coffee & Crepes General Manager Emily Armstrong said she doesn’t feel comfortable asking people if they’re vaccinated or not. Armstrong said, "Honestly, just with the reactions of people the past few months of having to ask them to wear a mask, I’m scared to ask people just because I don’t know how they’ll react, I don’t know how they’re going to feel like if they think they’re being controlled?"

Armstrong said she will still be wearing a mask for now, but she wants customers to do whatever works for them. “I’m just kind of letting them do their own thing especially after today because I don’t really see me wanting to get in an argument with someone over a mask,” Armstrong said.

For the most part, places like Rosepepper and Red Bicycle will be taking it day by day. "It is a little hard just because you know, we’re in the people business, and I want to make sure that people are happy," Chaires said.