A mix of rules for mask wearing is causing confusion in Anchorage

Some Anchorage businesses still require masks to enter.
Some Anchorage businesses still require masks to enter.(ktuu)
Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 6:24 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance that said fully vaccinated people can safely forego masks in most situations, indoors and out. In response, Anchorage officially dropped its city-wide mask mandate, but also left it up to individual businesses to decide their own mask policies.

The result has been a combination of rules at different businesses that can sometimes be confusing for residents.

“I find it confusing because some places it’s mandated to wear a mask and other places it’s not,” said Doris Rio in the parking lot of Tikahtnu Commons in East Anchorage. “I always keep a mask with me at all times because if I have to have it, I have it.”

Most of the chain stores in Tikahtnu, like Target and, most recently, Lowes, have dropped requirements for fully vaccinated customers or employees to wear masks. Still, many people going into those businesses Wednesday still had masks on. Candy Hyde was one of them. Hyde said, to her, masking up still feels like the right thing to do.

“I am just used to it right now and I’m comfortable wearing it now, so that’s what I do,” she said.

But at the nearby Nails Couture salon, customers don’t have a choice. Malina Phameuang said the family-owned business isn’t ready to drop the mask requirement yet, especially right before the busy summer season.

“We don’t do the social distancing anymore and we are close to (our) customers, so yeah, it’s better keep the mask on,” she said.

For the most part, businesses say customers are following the rules, but a South Anchorage yogurt shop recently had a different experience.

Kelly Kim, who owns SoYo Yogurt Shoppe with her mother, said the business has a strict mask policy which is posted outside. Kim said several long-time customers have health concerns which is what prompted the policy. In the past week, according to Kim, two people have become upset when they were asked to put on a mask or leave the store.

“One came and screamed at us and slammed our door and broke our door,” Kim said. “One recorded our staff (on their cell phone ) and refused to leave.”

Kim said she was shocked that anyone would get so angry about being asked to wear a mask.

“We didn’t think it would cause this type of uproar,” she said.

She added that if people don’t agree with the rules that are clearly posted on a business, they probably shouldn’t come in.

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