Lack of face masks fueling frustrations for struggling Valpo businesses

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Door sign printed by the city of Valparaiso for local businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Bob Kasarda

VALPARAISO — Those failing to comply with the governor’s executive order to wear face masks in public are contributing to the hardships faced by local businesses already in jeopardy by the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, the mayor and other city officials were told Wednesday morning.Geoff Blanco, owner of Rigg’s Outdoor Power Equipment, said during a city-sponsored Zoom call that he has had to hire an attorney to respond to a civil complaint filed against him by someone with an undisclosed medical condition, who felt discriminated against for being called on to wear a mask at the business.Others said they are facing hostility from those refusing to wear masks. Concern was voiced about Valparaiso attracting the image of a “COVID city.””We might not make it, that’s the reality,” one business owner said about the cumulative impact of the pandemic. “We’re weeks away from closing the door.”Valparaiso Mayor Matt Murphy, who was called on for financial assistance and help in promoting the city as a safe destination for customers, said research has shown that the bulk of …

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