Restaurant Reopens as Private Club to Avoid Mask Mandate: ‘No Masks Allowed’

BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 12: A waiter at Raku, an Asian restaurant in Bethesda, wears a protective face mask as serve customers outdoors amid the coronavirus pandemic on June 12, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland. Many streets are closed to vehicles in downtown Bethesda as Montgomery County continues its phase one …
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A restaurant in Missouri has reopened as a private club with a “no masks allowed” policy after county officials shut down the establishment, deeming it an imminent health hazard for refusing to implement the local mask mandate.

Jackson County, Missouri, reinstated an indoor mask mandate in early August, requiring those five and older to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. The county’s website specifically urges residents to report businesses not complying with the order.

The county did, in fact, take action against at least one establishment that refused to abide by the mask mandate. Officials shut down Rae’s Café on Friday, deeming it an “imminent health hazard.”

But the owner, Amanda Wohletz, found a workaround, reopening as a private club with a “no masks allowed” policy.

As WDAF reported:

Private clubs aren’t affected by the county’s indoor mask mandate. As a private club, members will have to pay one dollar each time to get in. A sign on the door also warns members they assume any and all risks of disease transmission.

Owner Amanda Wohletz said she doesn’t feel her employees have done anything wrong because they have medical reasons to not wear masks, making them exempt from the county’s policy.

Last week, Jackson County administrator Troy Schulte said that the owner of the restaurant “knowingly and willingly continued to violate the health order,” leading them to take action.

“It is clear by the number of complaints we received that people in our community are concerned about the spread of the virus and are holding others accountable to prevent further pain, sickness and death in our community,” Schulte said.

“Our order is in place to protect public health. We are grateful for those businesses who are doing their part to help us get through this pandemic and will continue to act accordingly for those who are not,” he added.

Wohletz, however, plans to continue operations “as long as I can, as long as they let me.”

Jackson County’s mask mandate comes as other localities, and even some states, reimpose mask mandates, citing the spread of the delta variant. Despite the availability of vaccines and extended mask mandates, daily coronavirus cases in the U.S. are up over 300 percent from last Labor Day.

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