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Restaurant owner says customers still need to wear masks inside despite new CDC guidelines

The CDC is looking at case numbers, COVID-19 hospitalizations and hospital capacity to determine areas at low, medium or high risk.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Much of the country now gets to take off their masks under new guidance from the CDC, but what about Kentuckiana?

The CDC is looking at case numbers, COVID-19 hospitalizations and hospital capacity to determine areas at low, medium or high risk. That puts about 70% of the U.S. in the clear.

However, even with the new measurement, metro Louisville is not one of those areas.

Wiltshire Pantry Owner Susan Hershberg said customers must wear masks at all of her locations. In fact, at her Market Street location, proof of vaccination is required to dine in because it's a tight space.

Hershberg said she doesn't think her staff and her customers, who all appreciate the restaurant's policies, are ready for that change.

“I'm ready as much as the next person is,” Hershberg said. “My industry has been absolutely, positively decimated, but we're just not there yet. I have a very, very broad spectrum of folks who work at Wiltshire, some may have health compromises, some may have elderly parents for example, which I do."

RELATED: 'We are headed in the right direction': COVID-19 case decline continues in Kentucky, Beshear says

That's the population Clark County Health Officer Doctor Eric Yazel worries about, but he does think the new CDC recommendations are a good move.

“There are some people that are high risk and have to take more precautions,” Yazel said. “That being said, if you're young and healthy and vaccinated, the risk is extremely low, so I think being able to adjust your precautions accordingly makes a whole lot of sense."

Clark County is also showing a high level of community spread with the CDC's new metric.

Yazel admits communities aren't likely to follow the guidance for the ‘high' level, especially when the CDC map shows that about 70% of counties in the U.S. can go without masks.

“Our numbers are already improving astronomically every 24 hours and I think we'll get there very soon," Yazel said. "But yeah, I think when people see those guidelines for other counties they're going to want to follow suit regardless of the local situation."

That's what scares Hershberg, and it’s why she'll keep her requirements now and possibly in the future.

"It's not over," Hershberg said. “I’ll poll my staff and see how they feel. if they want us to keep having folks mask, that's what we'll do,” Hershberg said.

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