Last Wednesday, Dane County lifted its public health orders. Restaurants are no longer required to enforce mask wearing and capacity limits but can still implement those things if they want to.
Tom Anderson is the owner of Buck & Honey’s, which has locations in Sun Prairie, Monona, and Waunakee.
Anderson says customers have the option to wear masks if they want, but it isn’t required. And while Buck & Honey is not requiring masks, they are still keeping tables at a distance when they can.
“If people want to wear a mask, they can, and if they don’t, they don’t have to. I think that being able to take the masks off, people have really really enjoyed. We still kept all of our distancing stickers up and again have kept a lot of our tables spaced out,” says Anderson.
Other restaurants in Dane County have done the same.
Lisa Ratze is co-owner of Yola’s Cafe, a coffeehouse in southwest Madison. She says that they are keeping most of the same guidelines that were in place before. That is, except for the masks.
“We still have the social distancing of tables, we have our social distancing outside–outdoors. We have our hand sanitizer stuff all, you know, still there. We still have curbside pickup. We still have people coming in to pick up. So, a lot of that we have been keeping. Most of the one thing we are not keeping are the masks now that it’s not mandated,” says Ratze.
The past week has been a transitional period for many restaurants, including Yola’s Cafe and Buck & Honey’s. This transition has been made most apparent by customer’s responses.
“Yeah, I would say we have a stronger traffic flow of people coming in and coming out. And people that are more willing to eat inside than be outside. Like, today it’s raining. We’re still busy. Before, when it was raining, we’d be really slow because we wouldn’t have anybody come in to eat,” says Ratze.
Paul Schwoerer is the owner of Paul’s Pel’Meni, located downtown on West Gilman Street. He says not much has changed and that a majority of his customers still mask up.
“Most people are not comfortable not wearing a mask, so I still see, I’d say it’s probably 75/25. You know, three out of four people are still wearing a mask, I’d say for the most part,” says Schwoerer.
Wendy Kuo is the owner of Umami Ramen and Dumpling Bar on Williamson Street. At Umami Ramen and Dumpling Bar, staff and unvaccinated customers are still required to wear masks. Vaccinated customers are not. However, Kuo says that many of her customers remain masked as well.
“There hasn’t been much change, you know. And I think a lot of customers now feel like they, you know, if they’re vaccinated, that they come in without a mask. And I think that’s really the only difference that we see. But we still, we do see a lot of people still come in with masks on,” says Kuo.
Reporting for WORT News, I’m Hailey Griffin.
Image Courtesy: Hailey Griffin / WORT News