Florida bar owner bans face masks and kicks out anyone wearing one, says 'it's hindering our lifestyle'
WEST MELBOURNE, FLORIDA: While the debate as to whether or not to reopen bars in the middle of the pandemic crisis rages on, there are some who are outright rejecting all social distancing guidelines. One bar owner in Florida has declared a ban on masks in his bar, and is even going so far as to say that anyone seen wearing a mask in his establishment will be ejected from the premises. The owner, Gary Kirby, has said that he does not "agree" with the idea of masks and refuses to let his patrons wear them.
Kirby is the owner of Westside Sports Bar and Lounge in West Melbourne, and he began banning masks in his bar around September 11, despite the CDC guidelines asking those who go out in public wear a mask at all times. Though customers' temperatures are taken at the door, they are then required to remove their masks if they're wearing any — and if they are not, they are promptly thrown out.
"It's hindering our lifestyle as we know it," Kirby told Fox News. He has also said, "I personally don’t agree with it. So that’s why I made the decision to… I don’t want them here." He also says that his personal disagreement with the CDC guidelines aside, he has other reasons to not want his customers wearing mask. One reason, he claims, is that the masks make it hard to tell whether or not a customer has been overserved. Another reason is that he claims his bar was burgled on August 8 by a man wearing a surgical mask — and according to Fox News, he claims that the burglary was an "inside job" and that he told the police that “criminals would be capitalizing on the mask mandate all over, using it to their advantage to get away with crimes.”
It's notable that according to the West Melbourne Police Department, Kirby has been "uncooperative" with the police's attempts to investigate the burglary after he filed the report, and that he has refused to meet with detectives on the matter.
According to Kirby, the response to his maskless policy has been mixed. On one hand, he has received reviews from all over the country decrying his anti-mask stance — some even going so far as to send him death threats. On the other hand, Kirby claims that the people of his town have “for the most part been in 100% support” of his choice to keep masks out of his bar, and that he's received hundreds of messages in support of this policy. "I’m getting messages on my Facebook saying, ‘Hey, football, we’re coming there to watch the game,'" he told Fox 35.
Brevard County, which is where Kirby's bar is located, does not require its citizens to wear masks before entering business establishments — only that businesses state clearly what their policy on masks is at the door. "We simply encourage residents to follow CDC recommendations — which is to wear a mask. Period," Don Walker, the communications director for Brevard County, told Fox News. “There is no enforcement, etc on mask-wearing.”