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People’s lunacy around face masks is hurting restaurants and small businesses

Published Jul 6th, 2020 6:04PM EDT
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  • Restaurants around the country are reporting a sad trend at the moment — the necessity of closing down their businesses, at least temporarily, as a result of an angry backlash from customers opposed to face mask requirements that are meant to keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • They include Hugo’s Tacos in Los Angeles, which has been using the hashtag #NoMaskNoTaco in its social media posts.
  • This trend comes as some 17 states have paused their reopening plans because of a surge in coronavirus cases.

About a week ago, Hugo’s Tacos in Los Angeles greeted its customers with the following announcement explaining the temporary closure of the brand’s taco stands: “Our taco stands are exhausted by the constant conflicts over guests refusing to wear masks,” the announcement began (it can be read in full at the Hugo’s Tacos Facebook page).

“Staff have been harassed, called names, and had objects and liquids thrown at them. A mask isn’t symbolic of anything other than our desire to keep our staff healthy.” Accordingly, the announcement goes on to explain, the taco stand’s two locations are closed so that the team can “take a break and recharge.” #NoMaskNoTaco is the hashtag the business has been using on social media to succinctly explain its position, regarding one of the few tools (face masks) that people have to protect themselves during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

What’s ironic about the harassment that the business has been dealing with is that it also comes as California has seen a dangerous spike in coronavirus cases that have made it one of a handful of states that are the new COVID-19 hotspots in the US. Country-wide, the latest stats from Johns Hopkins University show that almost 2.9 confirmed cases have been identified to-date in the US, along with a little more than 130,000 reported deaths.

Cases are rising to such a degree around the country, in fact, that 17 states have hit pause on their reopening strategies. This, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to remind everyone that wearing “cloth facial coverings” helps prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Because of his business’ closure, Hugo Taco’s owner Bill Kohne started a GoFundMe fundraiser which has raised more than $51,000 (of its $50,000 goal), money that will be distributed to help employees right now. Sadly, though, this is not the only restaurant business facing this predicament.

Mexican Fiesta in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, is another that has decided to suspend dine-in service and switch to only offering carry-out.

“Unfortunately, there were multiple situations where our staff was disrespected and treated rudely,” the restaurant announced in a Facebook post. “The safety of our customers and staff is our number one priority so we have made the tough decision of closing our doors to the general public until further notice.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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