As someone who has been sporting a mask since the beginning of the pandemic I am so relieved to see things starting to return to normal. Including a step that oddly feels like some sort of triumph: the statewide mask mandate being lifted.

However, don't throw those masks in the fire just yet. In downtown Kalamazoo, at least, here's what to expect when visiting privately owned businesses.

WKMI logo
Get our free mobile app

As reported by WWMT News Channel 3, as Covid-19 restrictions lift, the new workplace rules allow employers to decide whether or not they want to continue requiring masks and social distancing. That applies to both employees and customers.

So, do I still need a mask when I visit downtown Kalamazoo?

The short answer is, no. However, keep in mind that some businesses may still require masks, as is their right. So, if you don't want to sport the mask you'll have to be prepared to not visit those businesses.

To play it safe, I would advise you keep a mask on your person just in case. Every business that I've visited in downtown Kalamazoo has a very clear sign on their front door stating their policies. Some allow no masks if you're fully vaccinated. I'm sure several won't require them at all. But, for those that do...I want to stress how important it is to respect a private business' decision to protect themselves, their employees or both. There are enough viral videos of people screaming at employees over mask rules. Let's choose kindness instead.

I visited the comment section for WWMT News Channel 3's coverage of the mask mandate lifting to see how people were feeling about it. I expected people to be encouraged or happy. Instead, I found comments from people hoping that those businesses that do require masks go out of business which feels extreme. And disappointing. Again, I hope we all can choose kindness moving forward.

Keep in mind, masks are still required on public transportation and in health care facilities. You can find the full list of restrictions that have been lifted, find answers to questions about Covid variants and more at

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

More From WKMI