Restaurant Turns Away Customers Who Wear Face Masks

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Jul. 21 2020, Updated 1:37 p.m. ET

A Northern California restaurant has come under fire for refusing to serve customers who are wearing masks, a choice that not only endangers their employees and patrons but could also jeopardize their business. Apple Bistro is in Placerville, a small town about 50 miles east of Sacramento. 

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Newsweek reports that the restaurant's Yelp page became inundated with one-star reviews after several people reported that the restaurant was turning away anyone who insisted on wearing a mask. The signs posted outside the restaurant seem to say it all.

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First, the sign requests that customer wait inside to be seated, a practice many restaurants are eschewing in the name of safety, Then below, the sign reads, "No Social Conditioning, No Oxygen Deprivation Mask, No Latex Dirty Germ Spreader [gloves]. Not required here. This may not be for you."

"This sign was horrifying. None of their staff wear masks or gloves," one Yelp review reads. "They actively discourage patrons from wearing masks or social distancing, treating COVID-19 as a conspiracy hoax."

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"I literally could not even get food," another review reads. "Walked in and was told to leave because I *was* wearing a mask. They are so uneducated that they think it deprives you of oxygen. (It does not.) There is a sign basically saying don't social distance, don't wear a mask, and don't wear gloves. I am stunned a business would actively try to make the community worse, I will never return. "

Anna Giles, a reporter for CBS Sacramento, wrote on Twitter, "The El Dorado County Health Department says they've gotten close to 20 complaints about the restaurant. They will visit next week and give a warning, but if the complaints continue, this restaurant could lose their license."

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As of June, the state of California requires residents to wear face masks in most public settings. There are some exceptions, including people who are eating or drinking, but at all other times, people, including servers, cooks, and anyone else in a restaurant, should be wearing protective gear.

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Placerville falls within El Dorado County, and although there is a statewide mask mandate, the Sheriff of nearby Sacramento has said that his officers would not enforce the terms of the mandate. Shortly after Governor Gavin Newsom announced the mask requirement, Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones' office put out a statement.

"The Sheriff's Office recommends that everyone continue exercising safe practices, including wearing masks pursuant to the Governor's recommendation, especially around those in high-risk groups," the statement read. 

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"However, due to the minor nature of the offense, the potential for negative outcomes during enforcement encounters, and anticipating the various ways in which the order may be violated, it would be inappropriate for deputies to criminally enforce the Governor's mandate. Accordingly, the Sheriff's Office will not be doing so."

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If the Apple Bistro continues to actively refuse those who are wearing masks, and people continue to complain about it, the health department could shut them down. But even if that doesn't happen, the restaurant is already losing customers, some of whom used to be loyal fans. 

One Yelp reviewer posted a picture of an Apple Bistro mug and wrote, "As you can see, I used to be a fan. However, I've lost all respect for a company that does not enforce the mandates of our state. How many people will get COVID-19 from eating here? Never again will I eat here and I'll never recommend it to anyone who values their life. Shame on you."

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