Coronavirus: Seattle store bans customers for wearing masks

SEATTLE — The owner of a Washington tea shop placed a sign at the front entrance, telling customers they would not be allowed in the store unless they removed their protective masks.

KIRO-TV attempted to interview the owner of B. Fuller's Mortar & Pestle tea shop, but he quickly refused, saying, "I gotta go. I gotta go! Thank you!"

Yet those who have visited the store are still talking about the no-mask sign.

"I passed by it, saw the sign and thought, 'This must be some kind of joke ... sarcasm or something,'" a recent customer said.

Placed at the front entrance, the sign contained bold letters that read, “Please remove your mask.”

In the fine print below, the sign says the coronavirus “was all a panic, mostly, and we can all admit we overreacted.”

After reading the sign, one customer told KIRO-TV that she asked the owner if he was truly serious about his no-mask policy.

“Am I not allowed to come into the store because I have my mask on?” she said she asked the owner. “No, you’re not,” he responded, according to that customer, who added that he stated, “I don’t want this dirty thing in my store,” referring to the mask.

After he refused to talk to reporters, KIRO-TV watched as the owner of the store abruptly closed for the rest of the day.

Customers in Fremont said they were shocked that such a policy would exist, especially during a pandemic.

“I understand why people need to express their views, but when it runs up against public health, that creates a problem,” Charles Balter said.

“Obviously, (coronavirus) is not going away,” another customer said. “We know yesterday was a record for the number of cases that were filed.”

This is the second time this week that a western Washington business has made headlines for objecting to masks.

In Snohomish, the owner of Flower World stopped his employees from wearing masks, claiming they posed a health hazard in hot greenhouse settings.

Days later, people in Fremont are also at the center of masked controversy.

“As much as I wanted to fight against his belief, I smiled and walked away. I didn’t know what to say. I was shocked,” said a customer of B. Fuller’s Mortar & Pestle tea shop.

As of Friday afternoon, the sign advising against masks is now gone from the shop’s window.

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