You read the headline correctly. A Texas bar is banning customers who wear masks. Quite the opposite of what other places are doing during the coronavirus pandemic.
No mask, no problem, says the owner of a bar in Elgin, Texas. The Liberty Tree Tavern not only warmly welcomes maskless patrons, but it prohibits customers who wear masks. This is sure to cause a stir on the suddenly polarizing topic of people wearing face masks.
"Due to our concern for our citizens, if they feel the need to wear a mask, then they should probably stay home until it's safe," the notice outside the Liberty Tree Tavern states, according to USA Today. No mask-shaming going on at the Liberty Tree Tavern.
"It is more of a pushback against the wannabe snitch patrols and the contact tracers they're gonna hire," the bar's co-owner Kevin Smith told KXAN.
"This is still rural Texas," Smith told the news outlet. Elgin, which is 25 miles east of Austin, has a population a little over 9,000. The small Texas town has recorded only 52 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Smith acknowledged that the bar was observing Gov. Greg Abbott's coronavirus restrictions by limiting capacity to 25% and asking that parties stay 6 feet apart to meet social distancing guidelines.
Charles Chamberlain, who is a regular at the Liberty Tree Tavern, said he has been to the bar three times since it re-opened on May 22. Chamberlain chooses not to wear a mask despite being considered high-risk for COVID-19 since he is a survivor of Stage 4 cancer and the H1N1 virus.
"I was quarantined in the Med Center for 12 months during my cancer treatments in Houston. When I quit my treatments the doctor asked me if I was ready to die, and I looked at him and said, This ain't even living, it's existing,'" the 58-year-old Texan said. "This quarantine ... that's not living, that's existing."
"I'm a Stage 4 cancer survivor. It's just a choice. He just put that up there to let people know if they aren't feeling good, then they maybe shouldn't come," Chamberlain said. "Everybody is keeping safe distances, they aren't bunching up."
"Going to the bar, going to the lake, going swimming with your friends, barbecuing, fishing — that's living," Chamberlain added. That's living indeed.