Still operating at 50% capacity, some restaurants in Baton Rouge are having to deal with another issue: people who refuse to wear face coverings either arguing with their employees or turning away their business.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the issue of mask-wearing has become increasingly political. While many Americans follow public health recommendations to wear masks in public to curb the spread of COVID-19, others passionately protest them, arguing they impair individual freedom.
“Some people just don’t want to wear masks,” says Zippy’s owner Neal Hendrick, who spends between $300 and $400 weekly on disposable masks to give to customers. “They’ll usually pout and put them on, but about one person a day leaves like, ‘F— this.’”
On two separate occasions, larger groups of medical professionals even walked into the Mexican restaurant without wearing masks. In an effort to handle these daily issues, Hendrick says he’s been shifting most dining activity outdoors, under two new tents he bought. Today, nearly 100% of Zippy’s seating is outside, where masks aren’t mandated.
While there haven’t been any physical altercations at his restaurant, Hendrick still worries about his staff of mostly college-age students having to calm down angry anti-maskers. To ensure their safety, he’s instructed wait staff to “give [the customers] their stuff and get them out of the building,” saying his restaurant is “not equipped as a business to forcibly remove someone.”
In order to comply with state and local mandates, many other restaurants are also handing out complimentary masks to patrons.
Read on for the rest of the story, which ran in Daily Report‘s Aug. 4 edition. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.