WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — A mask mandate will begin in most, but not all, parts of Wake County Friday at 7 a.m.
If you find yourself wandering through a grocery store, restaurant or a retail store then be ready to have a mask on when you stroll into some public places.
Buddy Willis doesn’t have the same problems. He owns B&W Hardware in Wake Forest where masks are optional and not a requisite.
“We enjoy the relationship we have built with customers. We have a lot of regular customers that come in,” Willis said.
As the amount of people catching the delta variant of COVID-19 grows in North Carolina, the enthusiasm for wearing masks is not shared equally from the suburbs, countryside and the cities. An official with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services confirms there are more than 7,000 new cases of COVID-19 by midday on Thursday.
Nearly 3,100 are fighting the virus in hospitals around the state, based on information from the NCDHHS. By now, 14,000 COVID-related deaths have been eclipsed in N.C. The mask mandate for 83% of Wake County becomes official by the time parents are dropping off children at schools.
Five towns chose to opt out: Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Wendell and Wake Forest. Willis says he’ll run his business the same way no matter what the town does.
Willis has been the owner of B&W Hardware since 1986. Besides nails, hammers and accessories tied to building homes, the array of options any human being can find hanging on any aisle in his store is quite grand.
”We carry a lot of children’s items like the Red Ryder BB gun. Which you’re very rarely to see them anymore,” said Willis.
They make everyone feel like they are a part of their family. When other businesses shut their doors during the pandemic, his were open. When customers walk in, a mask isn’t a requirement.
“I think that is entirely up to the town leaders. I have no issue with the mask or without the mask,” Willis said.
Mayors in the five cities and towns who didn’t enforce the wishes of government officials will not make folks in their respective communities wear face coverings indoors again. However, Willis is a man with a beating heart.
“I feel like if a person wants to wear a mask then that’s fine,” said Willis
A casual stroll outside his storefront reveals no signage of what customers must do once their feet hit the inside of his store. Posters or not, Willis, who was born in Wake Forest and has lived there ever since, wants people to know he takes the vaccines against COVID-19 seriously.
”I just believe in being vaccinated and I believe in the science of it. I think that’s good for everyone just like they did with polio and all the other diseases we eradicated,” said Willis.
Willis says all the people he employed chose to be vaccinated and were not told they had to do so. Doctors say it’s the unvaccinated who are most susceptible to the delta variant. If shoppers ask to mask up, Willis is happy to comply.
“If they feel uncomfortable around us without a mask on then we will put one on and make them feel comfortable. We want our customers to feel comfortable,” he said.
Wake County has not confirmed any penalties at this time.