Some Triangle businesses accept Gov. Cooper’s message, others left wanting more guidance as COVID surges


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A lot of eyes were on Gov. Roy Cooper and the COVID-19 task force Thursday afternoon — many of those eyes belonging to business owners in central North Carolina.

“We kind of sat. We were ready for it. Came into work early. Prepared for it,” said Mary Claire Barker, general manager of Mateo in Durham.

During the briefing, Cooper strongly encouraged businesses to make sure employees are vaccinated. If not, Cooper recommended they mask up and get regular COVID-19 tests.

It’s not exactly what Barker expected to hear.

“Nothing even touched on as far as restaurants,” she said. “We were hoping for some sort of direction to us, to our guests, for everyone so we have some sort of feeling that they do care about us. That we are here. Like, we are still surviving.”

Barker said all of Mateo’s employees are vaccinated. Also, masks are optional for people who are vaccinated.

The same boxes are checked off for Timothy McIntosh Jr. and the barbers at the Renaissance Barbershop in Durham.

“Here at the Renaissance Barbershop, we are all vaccinated. I think that one thing that gets missed is really trying to connect with what people are thinking. There is a wide range of why people want to get vaccinated. Why they don’t want to get vaccinated,” McIntosh said.

McIntosh said he’s at peace with the governor’s decision.

Although everyone is vaccinated, barbers are always wearing masks inside the shop. There are also masks and hand sanitizer available when customers walk in.

“I think it’s just accepting people for where they are — not saying you don’t believe what I believe so you’re wrong. There’s something wrong with you. I think it’s really trying to understand where people are and connecting with them where they are,” McIntosh said.

He also said they are keeping an eye on COVID-19 cases and trends. He said they will mandate masks at the shop for everyone, if necessary.

As for Mateo, if a worker gets sick, they must get tested and it has to come back negative before coming back to work.

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