Local group highlights businesses using safe COVID practices
By Taylor J. Hale
CENTRAL WISCONSIN – A social media group focused on supporting businesses that practice safe COVID-19 guidelines has garnered over 2,000 members since its inception two weeks ago. Central Wisconsin Maskers was created by John Omernik and his wife, Beth, on June 26. The main focus of the group was to promote local businesses following social distancing and PPE practices.
“We wanted to focus on sharing those businesses that are taking proactive steps to require masks, even though not required by officials, and provide a way for other community members who want to take part in the local economy safely, to know which businesses supported these safe practices,” Omernik explained.
Omernik sees the group as a way for locals to feel safer when shopping, while also normalizing the practice of wearing a protective mask. Roughly 300 businesses based in central Wisconsin are listed for locals to find safe-shopping options.
“Prior to this group, many felt caught between the unknowns of going out into a community and not knowing precautions and being stuck at home, unable to participate in the local economy,” Omernik said. “With this group, they have told me they feel empowered to go out safely and be able to be a member of the community they love.”
The group has organized area shops that do, and don’t enforce mask policies. The shops have been digitally mapped out to help residents peruse local shops.
Omernik says all are welcome to join the group. Local business owners practicing PPE, and social distancing measures can contact the group to be listed.
“We want to have members who can help identify that there is a quiet group of us, with economic buying power, willing to take part in the economy in a safe way,” Omernik concluded. As the group continues to expand, more central Wisconsin cities are being included.
“We have businesses from Wautoma to Tomahawk, and Marshfield to Waupaca. As more members get added from these areas, the businesses grow as well,” Omernik said.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/groups/cwmaskers.