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With new mask guidance, businesses ready for change in customer habits

Louisville shops noticed customers masking up even before the CDC's policy change, recommending everyone in areas with substantial COVID spread wear masks.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Governor Beshear has told state workers they must wear masks indoors now. This follows the new CDC recommendation that people living in counties with substantial COVID transmission go back to wearing masks indoors, even if vaccinated.

The new guidance affects counties that are either orange for substantial COVID transmission or red for high. That's about 80% of Kentucky’s counties.

The CDC's abrupt about-face is expected to change the game for businesses as more people are now advised to mask up before heading inside.

With changing advice, some shops are stepping up. Day's Coffee brought back a mask policy for employees when fears over the Delta variant grew last weekend.

RELATED: CDC reverses course on indoor masks in parts of US where COVID is surging

"Whenever we can take them off, we will, but with the CDC recommending that we do, we went ahead and bit the bullet,” employee Kayla Marx said.

Most stores WHAS11 spoke to aren't enforcing masks for customers, but they are recommended and have been growing more and more popular.

"I'd say in the last week or two, a few more people have been wearing masks,” Seth Tucker at Carmichael’s Bookstore said. “We recommend people wear them but we don't enforce it at all."

That was even before the CDC's new recommendations for masking in areas with substantial transmission, including Jefferson County.

RELATED: Officials urge vaccinations, as delta variant spreads in Kentucky, Indiana

"Once you give people the freedom to not wear it, it's hard to take it away again,” Tucker said.

For some stores, masks have become commonplace. For others, they already were.

“I've been working almost 7 years in nails and I always wear my mask when I work on them,” Sa Wey at La Perla Nails said.

With vaccination rates for Kentucky hovering around 50%, masking provides a sense of safety, in a public-facing job.

"I figure if I see 100 people a day, better safe than sorry,” Tucker said.

The city and state have held off so far on widespread mandates that challenged businesses struggling at the height of the pandemic. Though some think the return would be a smoother transition.

RELATED: 'I didn't want to have to go back to this': Beshear requires state employees, visitors to wear masks inside state buildings

"We've already had them, we've already been somewhat comfortable with them on. Does it suck? Of course. But if it's something we need to do we'll do it,” Marx said.

In the meantime, their request for guests – masked or not, show up with a smile.

"We've just been hoping that people respect our decision,” Marx said.

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