A restaurant in Utah has continued to defy public health experts with its ban on face masks, as cases of corona virus in the state are skyrocketing.
The owners of Yaks Cafe, a small breakfast and lunch restaurant in Blanding, introduced an anti-mask policy for guests sitting in the restaurant in May.
It comes at a time when health experts from Utah have been advising residents to wear face masks in public places for months to help contain the spread of the corona virus.
Meanwhile, COVID 19 cases in the state have skyrocketed, with a seven-day average of record new infections in October.
The Yaks Cafe is located in San Juan County, which remains a “high transmission rate area” under Utah’s health code.
This means that masks are required for both employees and customers when they enter all public interiors, while the tables in the restaurant must be at least two meters apart.
But last week, the Yaks Cafe still pushed back against health officials by offering limited sales of goods to celebrate its “no mask” policy, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
A T-shirt that is for sale on the cafe’s Facebook page and has since been privatized was read: “It’s a Yaks Cafe thing” on the front and “No Mask” on the back.
In recently taken photos, a sign in front of the café says “It’s a Yaks Cafe thing”: “No Masks! No! No gloves! No gloves! No! are allowed in the cafe! We do not provide them either.”
Why the restaurant has banned face masks
The owners of Yaks Cafe have reportedly argued that customers risk leaving more pathogens on the table surface when they come in and take off their masks than when they wear one.
In a Facebook post the Salt Lake Tribune saw on Facebook in July, the cafe wrote: “Just a reminder: Yaks Cafe takes pride in creating a clean and hygienic environment for all of our employees and customers. In our efforts to achieve this, we do not allow outside food, masks and gloves to be worn or brought into our cafe.
According to reports, the post office has continued to say that customers who wish to wear a mask should use the to-go window outside instead.
The cafe also posted a handwritten note on Facebook that the Salt Lake Tribune said was left by a customer who wanted to thank the owners for their mask policy.
The note read: “Thank you for standing by your values and making people feel that there are still places in America where people still believe in the Constitution and the small town of USA is still alive!
The restaurant ban continued as new coronavirus cases broke records in Utah last week, according to state government figures.
On Thursday, the number of new cases occurring daily rose sharply, with a record 1,984 positive test results. Saturday again saw high numbers with 1,770 new cases. The state had a total of 106,083 confirmed cases and 574 deaths.
What the authorities said
The executive director of the San Juan Public Health Department, Kirk Benge, told the Salt Lake Tribune that they find the rules of the café “really sad.
“But we are still in discussions with the district attorney about what we think would be the best course of action,” he added.
Health authorities cannot enforce coronavirus measures, but first, business owners who use the coronavirus for the first time can be fined up to $1,850 or face a maximum six-month prison sentence if charged by a district or county prosecutor, the Tribune reported.
Benge told the publication that San Juan County was hit by a third wave after the area experienced peaks in May and late July.
He said, “Now we are trending upwards again, not as dramatically and not as fast as the first two peaks in May and July, but we are certainly trending upwards. We hope that every company in the county is now taking things seriously”.
Face masks have been a bone of contention in Utah throughout the pandemic. Phil Lynman, a state legislator from Blanding, compared mask mandates to laws in Nazi Germany.
Tekk.tv has asked the San Juan Department of Health and the county sheriff for comments and also tried to contact the Yaks Cafe.