• Wed. Jun 23rd, 2021

Mask wearing not required at Home & Garden show; patrons differ on whether policy is a good one

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – The medical community generally is still very much in support of people keeping masks on when mixing with others in public.

People running the Fort Wayne Home & Garden Show during the four-day exhibition that kicked off Thursday at the Memorial Coliseum are recommending patrons wear face coverings, but they are not requiring them to do so.

Hundreds of people Thursday streamed through the Coliseum Expo Hall.

Patrons wearing masks breezed past others with nothing covering their faces.

The show is a place where you can look at and purchase the latest in contemporary home and garden products and services.

The event is happening on a smaller scale this year due to the coronavirus threat.

Parts of the Coliseum that are traditionally used for the show’s displays are right now dedicated to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Since Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter recently chose not to carry on enforcement of a mask wearing mandate in the county, the Memorial Coliseum left it up to individual show organizers to decide whether to require face coverings be worn by patrons coming to exhibitions held at the facility.

The Home & Garden show promoter shared what reaction she anticipated regarding the decision not to require masks at her event this April.

“I wasn’t sure how that was going to go, you know, we’ve had a lot of comments both ways. People feel very strongly one way or another, so we were just going to wait and see how it went… About 80 percent of people coming in have been wearing their masks, so it’s a good safe scene,” said promoter Becky Williamson.

We talked to patrons about the policy, both those who wore masks and those who didn’t.

“I’ve already gotten both shots, so, I just figured I could do without it (a mask), maybe I shouldn’t but I do,” said Ted Williams.

We asked Kim Farlow, who had a mask with her, if she thought wearing one at the show was important. She tugged the mask away from her neck.

“That’s how important it is to me,” she said. “Indiana, be mask free.”

Others told us they wore a mask for their own safety and for the benefit of those around them.

“Others get protected by my wearing it, the more of us that do it, the sooner we’ll be done and be able to go back to our lives,” said Mary Hutchison.

“Just because you’ve had the full vaccination doesn’t mean you’re clear yet, follow the government guidelines and do what you’re supposed to do. Wearing a mask never stopped us from doing what needed to be done,” said Ken Schinnerer. He and his wife Brenda kept a mask on as they strolled past displays.

The promoter maintains even though no mask wearing is required, the show is safe, that it is reduced in size this year and that featured speakers and educational seminars were eliminated to ensure proper social distancing.

The Allen County Department of Health weighed in, saying the department continues to strongly recommend precautionary measures like face coverings and social distancing, which administrators claim work to slow the spread of COVID-19.