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Some Restaurant Owners Say End To Mask Mandate Will Help Business, But Some Parents Wonder Why It Doesn't Apply To Schools

CHICAGO (CBS) -- We are just weeks away from what Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said will be the end of the state's indoor COVID-19 mask mandate on Feb. 28 – though students will need to go on wearing them for now.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, some restaurant owners said Wednesday night that anything that resembles normalcy is going to help business. But parents are left questioning why their kids will still have to mask up.

At TaKorea Cocina, at 1022 N. Western Ave. in Ukrainian Village, enforcing the state's mask mandate will soon be a mitigation of the past – and owner Robert Magiet is glad.

"It's hard enough just running a business," he said.

Magiet has adapted throughout the pandemic to the ever-changing rules surrounding masking.

"It's caused a lot of stress; a lot of anxiety," he said.

But with Gov. Pritzker lifting the statewide mask mandate at the end of the month for most indoor settings – including restaurants, bars, gyms, and the grocery store, Magiet is now focused on what the City of Chicago will do.

"The first thing that went through my head is, well, is the city of Chicago going to follow suit?" he said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says if the COVID-19 numbers continue to decline, the city will follow the state's lead.

But the governor is not dropping the mask mandate for schools - at least not yet - as he is appealing last week's downstate court ruling that questioned his legal authority to require masking in the classroom.

"I think that that's backwards," said Mundelein High School parent Anthony Herrera.

On Wednesday morning, some students at Mundelein High School refused to wear a mask and walked out of the school in protest of the policy. Herrera, whose son is a student at the school, questions the governor's decision to keep the mandate in place for schools.

"It doesn't make sense to me. I don't understand the reasoning for it," he said. "I believe it's mismanagement."

Also Wednesday night, 11 Chicago alderman urged the city's Public Health commissioner to lift the mask and vaccine mandates by Friday - for Valentine's Day and Super Bowl celebrations.

With the mask mandate coming to an end, Magiet says he is looking forward to the day normalcy will be served up in his restaurant.

"You have to be optimistic, right?" he said. "I hope people continue to get vaccinated and we can get back to living our normal lives."

The governor was asked if he is making the decision on ending the mask mandate for political reasons with an election coming up. He rejected that notion, and said he is following the metrics.

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