A newly reopened Texas restaurant is facing criticism for imposing a no-face-mask policy for its staff.
Employees at a Hillstone Restaurant Group establishment in Dallas told CBS that managers have forbidden workers from wearing face masks as they don’t complement the venue’s atmosphere or style of hospitality. They said that if they expressed discomfort with that stipulation, they were removed from the work schedule.
“We just wanted people in the community who have dined with us a lot to know we are not safe,” a Hillstone employee, who did not publicly reveal their name, told Texas’ People Newspapers in an interview published Sunday. “It’s not safe for anyone. We should at least been given a choice.”
Like other restaurants across the state, Hillstone’s four Dallas-area locations began serving dine-in customers at 25% capacity last week for the first time since March.
Hillstone did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the claims. However, a statement on the company’s website confirms that “current orders do not require our staff or guests to wear face masks.”
“If you are concerned about your safety in this respect, we hope you will join us at a later date,” the statement adds. At present, only parties of two are being seated.
A Tuesday Facebook post advertising the restaurant’s Cinco de Mayo specials drew a number of angry comments from users, however.
“My favorite holidays involve not catching or spreading COVID-19,” one person wrote. Added another, “Everyone is probably coughing all over your food. The place is taking short cuts just to make money.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) began taking efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, on March 19, when ― along other restrictions ― he prohibited eating and drinking at restaurants and bars while still allowing takeout and delivery. He went a step further March 31, putting residents under a statewide stay-at-home mandate that expired April 30.
Though Abbott said mask usage among Texans was encouraged, he added, “I don’t think a mandate would be necessary.”
As of Wednesday, Texas had reported a total of 33,369 cases of COVID-19, and 906 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Medical officials have said they expect cases in the Lone Star State to surge amid the gradual reopenings.
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