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Cafe charges extra fee to people who wear face mask, are caught 'bragging' about being vaccinated

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'I've been told this whole time that wearing a mask is a small price to pay'

Michael Siluk/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A Northern California restaurant is now charging patrons an extra fee if they wear a face covering inside the restaurant or if they are heard "bragging" about being vaccinated for COVID-19.

What are the details?

Customers entering Fiddleheads Cafe in Mendocino, California, are being greeted with a sign posted on the restaurant's front door warning them about the new charge.

"$5 FEE ADDED TO ORDERS PLACED WHILE WEARING A FACE MASK," the message says.

The message tells customers they will be dinged with an "additional $5 fee" if they are "caught bragging" about having received the COVID-19 vaccine. The sign says that all proceeds collected from the pandemic-related fines will be "donated to local charities assisting domestic abuse victims."

Cafe owner Chris Castleman told KNTV-TV some customers have paid the fee while others have responded with outrage.

Ultimately, however, he characterized the fee as an optional donation to charity, and suggested that he implemented the fee to demonstrate how "freedom of choice" has become a "foreign concept" in Democrat-controlled California.

"Customers either love it or hate it," Castleman said. "There are people who refuse to pay it; I guess a $5 donation to charity is too much for them. Others have gladly paid it knowing that it goes to a good cause. I don't force anyone to pay, I give them the freedom of choice, which seems to be a foreign concept in these parts of the country."

In a separate interview, Castleman alluded to a common refrain used during the pandemic that wearing a face covering is a "small price to pay" to help protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

"I've been told this whole time that wearing a mask is a small price to pay," Castleman told SFGate. "Some people get shocked by the sign but to see them turn around and get disgusted ... when they're asked to pay $5 [for charity], it's not in their wheelhouse. It's not something they're choosing to do."

Face masks are currently required in Mendocino County, where the cafe is located, including inside restaurants when patrons are not eating or drinking. Restaurants are also limited to 50% indoor capacity.

Anything else?

Castleman has a history of voicing his pandemic-related views.

In April, he posted a sign outside the restaurant that said, "THROW YOUR MASK(S) IN OUR TRASH BIN AND RECEIVE 50% OFF YOUR ORDER."

Another sign, which has since been removed, said, "GET YOUR FREE COVID-19 VACCINE CARD HERE!"

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