Local Businesses Respond to End of COVID Restrictions in Springfield

May 25, 2021

Credit Chloe O'Neill / KSMU

Springfield’s COVID-19 restrictions expire at the end of the day on May 27. Without a legal requirement to follow COVID safety guidelines, local businesses are choosing their own way forward. 

Ashley Williams, the owner of the hair styling company Luxe Salon 417, says her business was hit hard by the pandemic, but strictly enforced the COVID-19 restrictions, like requiring masks for employees and clients and limiting occupancy. Now that restrictions are being lifted by the city, Williams says she’ll continue enforcing those guidelines, but says it has been a challenge to convince some clients to follow the salon’s policy.

“Without the city standing behind us, it’s really hard to force people who don’t want to put a mask on to put one on," Williams told KSMU. "I’ve had yelling matches in the salon with a city-wide masking mandate where people are refusing to put masks on.”

(Editor’s Note: After publication, Williams provided further clarity on the salon’s operational plans once the city’s masking requirement expires.  Luxe Salon 417 will not require patrons to wear masks.  The salon will require unvaccinated stylists to wear masks, and will recommend that unvaccinated patrons wear masks.  Proof of vaccination will not be requested.)

Tim Merrifield, general manager at Budget Automotive & Radiator, a local auto repair shop, says he’ll continue recommending employees wear masks around customers, but won’t require them to be worn by employees or customers.

“It’s all dependent on the customer themselves," Merrifield says. "Am I going to refuse service to someone because they’re not wearing their mask? By no means.”

Budget Automotive’s owner, Paul Taylor, says although the shop will no longer require masks when the mandate expires, it will continue other COVID prevention practices, like social distancing, putting up screens, and sanitizing surfaces through the end of 2021.

“We’re just going to wait and see how things change between now and the end of the year. And hopefully for the better for everybody,” Taylor says.

Other businesses, including restaurants and barbershops, say they’ll drop the COVID restrictions completely, but declined to comment further.