Wednesday was day one of a "mask optional" policy at The Bar Method Miami for vaccinated clients.
The South Miami exercise studio was closed for in-person classes for several months. Owner Lillian Osborn had to pivot to Zoom classes -- then eventually back to in-person masked classes -- and now she made the switch to masks optional.
“We are just doing the best that we can as the rules change," Osborn said.
Clients seem to be adjusting well to the change, says Osborn, with those who are not vaccinated taking classes with a mask on.
"It's relieving because it feels back to how it was in the other studio and it feels like we can breathe, and instead of breathing into the mask, we can actually let out our breath correctly,” said client Vicky Fernandez-Sastre.
An executive order signed by Gov. Ron de Santis states businesses are prohibited from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination. At The Bar Method Miami and at hundreds of other Florida businesses, owners are operating under the honor system.
"There are legitimate reasons why people wouldn’t have been vaccinated, so I don’t want them to feel like they can’t come here because for whatever reason they are unable to, religious or medical or whatever their belief is," Osborn said. "I want them to feel just as comfortable as those people who have been vaccinated and have the choice to not wear a mask."
An Instagram page called No Masks Miami is highlighting businesses that have dropped the mask mandate. The man behind the page is registered nurse Dennis Bencomo.
“It’s up to the individual. If they want to wear a mask it’s up to them. It’s up to each person to manage their own level of risk," Bencomo said.
"No Masks Miami" also reposts stories from followers who are upset with businesses still requiring masks. Bencomo says the purpose is to show business owners there is a large portion of our community that supports a mask optional change.
"I’m not even trying to argue that they don’t have the right to enforce masking on their property. They do. They absolutely do, but by the same token we have the right not to shop there," Bencomo said.