California cafe under fire over reports it discourages mask-wearing: Where’s the ‘private business’ argument, now?

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In what proves to be the flip side of a media focus on businesses requiring customers to wear masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Northern California restaurant is reportedly asking customers not to wear masks.

After all, if businesses have the right to require masks, do they not also have a right to ban masks?

Apple Bistro in Placerville has a sign on its front door discouraging customers from wearing masks, according to FOX40 News reporter Doug Johnson.

The sign reads: “No social conditioning. No oxygen deprivation mask. No latex dirty germ spreader.” Below that, the sign states, “This may not be for you.”

In a second tweet, Johnson reported: “There’s reports of Apple Bistro in Placerville aggressively asking customers to take off their masks. Owners refused to speak with @FOX40 but some of their customers are defending their rights to run their business as they see fit.”

Los Angeles-based KABC-TV reported that a social media user claimed in a comment that the restaurant asked her to leave because she was wearing a mask — because you know how reliable social media is.

“I was just asked to leave this café when I went in to grab an apple pie,” the woman reportedly wrote. “Why? Because I was wearing a mask. We stop almost every time we come up to the cabin. We will never stop there again.”

There’s nothing to suggest that her name is Karen.

That assessment was disputed by a customer identified as Connie, who told FOX 40 she saw people dining at the restaurant last week and they had masks on.

“When I ate there about a week ago, there were people there with masks on,” she said.

Connie believes the warning on the door is a joke and she’s okay with that.

“I have no problem. I’m glad to see them still doing business and they are social distancing,” she said.

California is under a mandatory mask order in public settings, courtesy of Gov. Gavin Newsom, and local health authorities have the power to suspend the health permits of businesses that defy state guidelines.

“I don’t want to drive them out of business,” El Dorado County Supervisor John Hidahl told Sacramento’s KOVR. “I don’t want to over-regulate, but I do want to do as much as we can to help them get in the right posture, operating processes.”

FOX40 said the county health department received “20 complaints” about staff at the restaurant not following guidelines and said it could pull the cafe’s license — health officials will reportedly issue a warning this week and can suspend the establishment’s license on a second visit.

As for concerns about customers, there may not be another industry as in tune with its customer base than the food and beverage industry. Their very existence depends on getting it right.

Here’s a sampling of some of the responses to the story from Twitter:

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Tom Tillison

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