By Kristina Rex

SALEM (CBS) – In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Salem Board of Health voted to implement an indoor mask mandate in all businesses and public spaces.

The mandate will take effect Monday, August 23 and last through November 13, two weeks after the busy Halloween season. The goal, the board says, is the curb the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, especially with so many tourists visiting the area.

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“This is not a big ask,” Dr. Jeremy Schiller, Board of Health member, said. “It’s not shutting down business.”

Business owners who spoke to WBZ say they disagree; it is a big ask. “It’s just going to hurt us,” said Justin Mattera, owner of Longboard’s Restaurant and Bar. He worries about having to enforce the new mandate. “If the city wants to station someone down at my front door, by all means, please do,” he said. “But I don’t know how to mandate masks. That’s not my job.”

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Nearby restaurant owner Joel Votto also opposed the mandate, saying his regular customers will go elsewhere. “We will lose business,” he said. “They’ll go to Beverly. They can go to Marblehead, Swampscott, Lynn. All the surrounding areas; if they don’t impose a mask, why would I want to go to Salem?”

Votto and Mattera told WBZ they feel like the mandate is a step backwards, a 180 from health officials who told them getting vaccinated — which they did — would be the key to shedding the mask.

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“What’s going on here is ridiculous,” Mattera said. “If you want to wear a mask, by all means, please wear a mask. But don’t make the others wear it. We all got a shot.”

Kristina Rex