Florida Bar Refuses Service To Customers Wearing Face Masks

By now, we're all probably quite accustomed to the mask rules that are being enforced by most local establishments: no mask, no service.

But one sports bar in Florida has taken quite the different approach to the pandemic, and is enforcing their own rule instead: no face mask, no problem.

As TODAY reported, Westside Sports Bar and Lounge in West Melbourne won't serve any customers if they show up wearing a face mask. In fact, they won't even let those customers inside the building.

Earlier this month, customers were treated to signs taped to the bar's front doors, explaining this new policy.

As of September 15, Westside no longer allows customers to step foot inside if they're wearing masks. And if they're spotted with one on, they'll be asked to take it off or leave.

"No more masks. End this nonsense," the sign reads. "All over the world. We will all stop wearing masks. Just throw that filthy thing away."

Owner Doug Kirby explained he felt compelled to enforce the ban after his bar was robbed by a person wearing a mask.

That individual has yet to be found, and Kirby believes it's because they were wearing a face covering while committing the crime.

"I don't believe in masks," he told TODAY. "In the event that law enforcement were to need to use my security cameras, I feel that somebody wearing a mask could impair their ability to do their job."

Masks also pose a problem for bartenders who must be able to identify patrons, Kirby added.

Unsplash | Stanislav Rozhkov

"How can you be so sure it's me if I'm wearing a mask," the owner implored. "It's also the bartender's responsibility by law to make sure guests aren't being over-served. How can they tell that if they can't see someone's face?"

Because the bar also serves food, it has been able to stay open for most of the outbreak, albeit at limited capacity.

The establishment has also adhered to some safety guidelines — the tables inside are kept six-feet apart, gatherings of 10 people or more are prohibited, and customers undergo temperature checks at the door.

But despite CDC recommendations for food service workers to wear face coverings, Kirby says neither his customers nor his staff are made to wear masks.

So far, there have been no outbreaks among staff at the bar, but Kirby has a plan in place if anyone were to test positive.

Unsplash | Vera Davidova

In that event, the staff member would have to self-quarantine for 14 days and would only be allowed back to work if they test negative for the virus twice. Kirby would also make sure all staff members are notified to get tested, himself included.

"We social distance, we take extra steps in cleaning and we've been blessed to survive this pandemic so far," he said. "I've had compliance checks by all of the agencies of the state of Florida and we've been compliant."

Although certainly unusual, Kirby's ban on face masks inside his business is actually legal.

In West Melbourne, restaurants and bars aren't required to enforce mandatory mask policies. All they have to do is advertise what exactly their policy is — masks or no masks.

For Kirby, the attention his controversial mask ban has received has actually proven quite beneficial for his business.

One post about the ban shared to the bar's Facebook page has nearly 800 comments, ranging from shock to enthusiastic support from potential new customers.

"Love love love THIS," one person wrote. "I will be driving over from Orlando to support your business! Hope this will inspire more businesses to follow."

Another commented, "Good for you! I like your policy. About time we start waking up and snap out of our coma!"

Of course, there were also those who condemned Kirby and his bar's face mask ban.

"If I get COVD-19 and am asymptomatic may I still come in?" one person wrote. "Because them my rights... yeehaw. Florida is so embarrassing."

Another added, "You won’t stay in business long. Imagine being this ignorant and stupid. It must hurt."

But to those criticizing the new rule, Kirby has a simple message: don't like it, don't come.

Unsplash | visuals

"If you're concerned, stay home and we hope to see you when this is all over," he told TODAY. "There are no hard feelings; it's jut a policy that we believe in and are sticking to."

h/t: TODAY

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