RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin is considering lifting mask restrictions at certain businesses.

Baldwin issued a city-wide mask mandate at the height of the COVID-19 delta variant wave in mid-August. But after talking with concerned residents and business owners who say their sales are suffering, she may remove mask requirements at gyms, workout studios, and small businesses.

“I received a number of emails from people who say, ‘we support the mask mandate, but I can’t go work out at a gym.’ One woman said, ‘I’ve gained 20 pounds’ and another woman who said her mental health is suffering because of this. One guy told me he’s going to Cary to work out. He lives in Raleigh and goes to Cary to go to the gym there. I just really started thinking about this and what are we trying accomplish? So that’s one area where I think we need to find some balance.”

Baldwin brought the idea to the Raleigh City Council on Tuesday. She said it would not include big box stores or large workplaces.

“I’m talking about mom and pop type shops where you don’t have 100 people in the store at once,” she said. “We’re talking 5, 10, 15. So there’s a difference.”

Pilar Yearra owns Chisel Studio on N. West Street near Glenwood South. Her business isn’t hurting but believes it’s time to lift mask restrictions.

“I think the businesses themselves should be able to make their own decision now if they want to have masks in place in their shops and their stores,” said Yearra.

Baldwin said she’s expecting to see a spike in COVID cases following Thanksgiving, but added small businesses aren’t to blame.

She explained, “We are expecting a spike from Thanksgiving, but that spike isn’t caused by people working out in gyms or people at a shop, it’s because people are gathering together; they’re inside, they’re in homes eating together, no ones wearing masks, they’re hugging. It’s the holidays.”

Baldwin asked her emergency management team to gather data on how well lifting mask restrictions at certain businesses has worked in other cities before making a decision.

“We will be talking to Wake County Health Officials,” she said about seeking other input. “I’ll also be talking to all of our council members and Wake County Commissioners just to gauge where everybody is on this.”