By Karli Barnett

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A week after the CDC announced fully-vaccinated people can go without a mask in most settings, some local business owners are adjusting to the change.

Many say the change came suddenly without much guidance, leaving people to decide for themselves.

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“I’m trying to protect myself and my clients and my staff, so all of us are using the mask, but I give the option to the client,” said Arleen Regnault, owner of Highlight Salon in Coral Gables. “If they’ve been vaccinated, they can remove the mask.”

She said while most of her clients have kept their masks on, she did want to provide the choice.

“You need to make people feel comfortable,” Regnault explains. “I’m not here to make anyone feel uncomfortable about their decision.”

Dr. Bindu Mayi, a professor of Microbiology at Nova Southeastern University, reminds everyone that the CDC is not suggesting that everyone take their mask off.

“If you’re fully vaccinated person, then the guidelines apply to you, but if you’re partially vaccinated, or an unvaccinated person, then you still need those masks in place, because you need to protect yourself,” she said.

While she understands many people have been critical of the relaxed rules, Dr. Mayi said this could lead to a positive change.

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“Seeing that guideline, I think, inspires people who are on the fence to go ahead and get their vaccines, so that now they can enjoy being outdoors or indoors without the mask,” she explained.

Recently, big businesses like Publix, Target and CVS made masks optional.

Dr. Mayi said to keep in mind that not everyone can get vaccinated, such as infants, people who are immunocompromised, or those undergoing chemotherapy.  For that reason, when around people you do not know, it is still prudent to wear a mask.  When in doubt, she said, err on the side of caution.

“I think a good strategy is to carry your mask with you, and respect the place that you’re going to,” she said. “If there are businesses who want you to wear a mask, they will have a sign on the door.”

In a job like Regnault’s, where she has to be hands-on with her clients, she said she trusts them to make the right decision for themselves. However, she will not be removing hers just yet.

“I don’t want to lose clientele because they don’t feel safe or they don’t feel protected,” she said. “We’re doing the social distancing and the hand cleansing. We’re still doing the temperature checks, so my clients do really feel safe.”

There are places everyone still has to wear a mask, including hospitals and public transportation.

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Dr. Mayi said about 36% of South Florida has been fully vaccinated, which is close to the national average of 38% fully vaccinated.

Karli Barnett