A Texas couple who landed themselves a rare night out with friends says it was cut short when the restaurant kicked them out for wearing face masks, which they say they wore to protect their immunocompromised 4-month-old son.
Natalie Wester and her husband, Jose Lopez-Guerrero, joined a group of friends at a restaurant and bar in Rowlett, about 20 miles northeast of Dallas, on September 10.
“We are new parents and in the middle of a pandemic, we don’t really get out a whole lot,” Wester told CNN. “But that Friday night, my mom happened to be available to watch our son. … Living in a pandemic, being isolated and away from others is a big deal for our mental and social health.”
Their infant has cystic fibrosis, they said, so they have taken precautions to stay safe and do what’s best for their family, and that includes wearing a face mask in public except when drinking or eating.
But the restaurant they visited, Hang Time Sports Grill & Bar, has a no-mask wearing policy, according to its owner, whom CNN affiliate KTVT identified only as Tom. Wester said she was not aware of the policy.
CNN reached out to Hang Time Sports Grill & Bar on Monday by email and phone but has not heard back.
“About 30 minutes in, our waitress comes over and she sits down next to me and she’s like, ‘Hey, so our manager is over there in the kitchen, and he is not as nice as I am so I came over here to talk to you and unfortunately, this is a political thing, but our manager does not believe in the mask. He’s tired of being told what to do by, you know, politics in the country, and so you’re going to need to take the mask off,” Wester said.
On March 10, Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the mask mandate in Texas and said businesses of any type were allowed to open at 100% capacity. On a county level, though, judges can’t jail people who don’t follow Covid-19 orders, he said. And if a person doesn’t wear a mask, they won’t face penalties.
“If Covid hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas rise about 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, then a county judge in that region may use Covid mitigation strategies in their county,” Abbott said.
“I spent my money on this business, I put my blood, sweat and tears in this business and I don’t want any masks in here,” Tom told KTVT on camera. “I feel the overall reaction with the masks is ridiculous in the United States right now.”