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We staked out a local grocery store — here’s why people don’t want to wear masks

Posted at 9:12 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 23:40:38-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Despite recommendations from state leaders for Utahns to wear masks in public, less than half of shoppers actually are, according to a recent survey in local grocery stores. FOX 13 asked shoppers why.

At Lee’s Market in downtown Salt Lake City, carts are sanitized regularly, wipes are on hand for shoppers, and one-way and social distancing decals are scattered throughout the store to help shoppers keep their distance.

“You come up to someone, you tend to walk away, distance yourself,” said Brandon Hansen as he was leaving the store, groceries in hand.

Shoppers are in and out all day, every day.

“I get tunnel vision,” said Ditiarus Neal as he got ready to do his shopping. “I’m in and out trying to get

But, one of the biggest changes, comes before you step inside. Sandwich boards at each entrance, requesting shoppers to put on a mask and cover their face before entering the store.

“It’s pretty weird, but it’s better safe than sorry,” said Samantha Davies as she and her friend, Jen Falkner, got ready to do their shopping with masks on.

For some, like Samantha and Jen, masks are already a part of their new normal. They wear them “every time they go in public,” and they aren’t alone.

“I made a lot so we can wear them every day, reuse them and wash them,” said Ashley Malili as she stood next to her husband, Jared, donning a hand-made mask covered in cartoon sushi.

“We’re just trying to stay safe and don’t want to take any chances,” Jared said.

“I feel like it’s the selfless thing to do and it helps everybody, I mean it helps yourself and others,” Ashley added.

For many others, masks are still an afterthought.

“I’m wishy washy,” said Brandon Hansen as he wrapped up his shopping trip without a mask. “If someone can come out and prove that it’s beneficial, then I think it’s fine.”

“I’m just cautious,” Brandon added. “Social distancing, in my mind, is better -- being aware of it, not touching your face, washing your hands, making sure that you’re staying as sanitary as possible.”

Despite the new signage, only about half of the shoppers FOX 13 saw Monday afternoon were wearing masks.

“I don’t think it should be mandatory, I think it should be personal preference, if you think it would be safer than do so,” Ditiarus said. “I just respect people’s personal space and I assume they do the same for me.”

In a recent survey, our partners at the Salt Lake Tribune tracked 1500 shoppers at eleven different grocery stores throughout the Salt Lake Valley. They found only 42-percent of shoppers covered their faces. Women were more likely to do so than men (51-percent of women, compared to 34-percent of men).

No matter the reason, at the end of the day masks are recommended, not required.

“I will keep wearing mine until the CDC says otherwise,” Jen said. “I wear my mask and I sanitize so hopefully everyone else can do the same.”

This week Governor Gary Herbert is expected to make a formal recommendation to start lifting some restrictions on businesses to re-open parts of the state which have been closed by COVID-19.

As the state moves into a phased-in approach to re-opening some businesses under Herbert’s “Utah Leads Together 2.0” plan, Utahns could soon see restaurant, entertainment venues, barbers and salons re-open.

However, new changes will make masks required in some circumstances.