Indoor skate rink opens without requiring masks

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HOOPESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — Skater’s Paradise is reopening for the first time since the pandemic started. Despite the state mask mandate, the owner says he won’t be requiring people to wear them.

The business has been closed for about six months. Friday night was its grand reopening and the Vermilion County Health Department says they are investigating how it was handled. This comes on the same day the department announced Vermilion County is at a warning level for COVID-19.

The owner of Skater’s Paradise says the building doesn’t have air conditioning and he wants kids to be able to enjoy their time skating.

This place a go-to spot for kids’ entertainment in Hoopeston. Kayla Baker, a mother of four, says, “The skate place here is the only thing for kids to do. They’ve already taken away the entire summer and all the fun things from the kids, why not let them have fun? If you don’t want to expose your kid just stay home or wear a mask if you’d like.”

Baker doesn’t mind what the owners are doing. When asked if she would continue to take her kids there she said, “Yes because I think we’ll all come in contact with it anyway.”

But others in Hoopeston prefer to play it safe during the pandemic. One woman said, “I personally am on board for social distancing and wearing masks in 90% of where I go and what I do.”

Vermilion County Health Department Director Doug Toole says he will contact the business owners to make sure they understand the required compliance with the state mandate during the pandemic.
“The first step would be an educational one. I’ll get ahold of the owner because he may not be aware that there is a capacity limit and that mask wearing is required for events like this.”

The capacity requirement for a business like this inside buildings is 50% or fewer than 50 people, whatever amount is lower. If business owners can guarantee they can keep people 6 feet apart at all times they don’t have to require masks. But health officials say that is nearly impossible for a skate rink to do. Toole says, “Any sort of large gathering, especially indoor ones, are unfortunately great opportunities for viruses to spread.”

If the health department finds that the business owner is in violation of the state mandate, the first step would be to issue a warning in hopes that it would not happen again.

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