COLUMBIA – Restaurants and businesses in Columbia and Boone County will be able to set their own COVID-19 rules as the county health order expires May 12.
The Columbia/Boone County Health Department along with the city of Columbia previously announced they did not plan on issuing an extension to the order and will allow it to expire this week.
The decision comes as vaccinations continue to roll out locally and more residents get their shots.
As of Sunday, there are 58 active cases of COVID-19 in the county and 19 total hospitalizations, according to the Boone County COVID-19 Information Hub. Two of those in the hospital with COVID-19 are Boone County residents.
Even though changes are coming, masks will remain mandatory inside city buildings and on public transportation.
Masks will also be required at large events like upcoming MU graduation ceremonies, but those restrictions are set by the university. While social distancing and masks mandates are technically no longer required, they’re still highly recommended by the health department.
Local restaurants and businesses will get the chance to create their rules without the health order in place.
Some businesses like Maude Vintage look forward to things becoming more safe and having customers return. The store’s owner, Sabrina Garcia-Rubio, said she battled difficult times during the pandemic.
The store has been open for 20 years and at one point during the pandemic Garcia-Rubio said she almost lost her business.
“Financially sales and foot traffic were definitely less,” said Garcia-Rubio. “We were seeing increases in rent at the location we were at and it caused me to look for a smaller, cheaper space just to try to ensure that I could continue to be in business and pay the bills.”
Garcia-Rubio said it’s almost a relief to see the health order being lifted this week. But, she said safety will still be a priority. She said it’s the store’s loyal customers who have made her store community strong.
“For the most part I really trust in my customers and I’m glad that they trust in me,” Garcia-Rubio said. “They support me and they still shop here and follow all the safety guidelines.”