'Exhausted' by customers' rage over wearing masks, California restaurant chain shuts down

One man became so enraged by the company's "no mask, no taco" policy, he attacked workers

The Sacramento Bee
By Don Sweeney

Diners at two Los Angeles taco stands have screamed, cursed and thrown drinks on employees trying to enforce a "no mask, no service" policy, the Los Angeles Times reports.

It's become so exhausting that Hugo's Tacos has closed down both shops to give workers a break, owners wrote in a post on Twitter.

"All because of a simple question: Can we ask you to put on a mask? Can we offer you a mask?" said part-owner Bill Kohne, according to the Los Angeles Times. The company has been serving tacos for 15 years, owners wrote in the Twitter post.

Incidents, often captured on video, of people refusing to wear masks or trying to force their way into businesses without masks have been reported in recent weeks across the United States.

California is one of several states that have implemented mandatory mask orders in public to try to contain a resurgence in coronavirus cases. But some people argue that mask orders are an infringement on their freedoms.

Nabor Prado says Hugo's Tacos employees have been on the front lines of the face mask controversy, KNBC reported. One man became so enraged he attacked workers.

"He got a cup of water and (threw) the water at my employee, which is unsafe and rude," Prado said, according to the station. "It's really sad to see grown up people doing childish things like that."

Workers, who are mostly Latino, also have been called racial epithets by customers who have demanded refunds and thrown drinks through drive-up windows, the Los Angeles Times says.

It's just gotten more difficult to open every day in an environment where you're treated with hostility and venom," Kohne said, KTTV reported.

The company hopes to reopen soon when it feels it's safe to do so, the notice posted to Twitter says.

"This isn't about some tribal choice that you're being asked to make," Kohne said, according to the Lost Angeles Times. "You're just being asked to care for the people around you."

A GoFundMe account set up to aid Hugo's Tacos workers during the shutdown had raised $19,000 by Monday morning.

More than 10.1 million cases of the COVID-19 virus have been confirmed worldwide with more than 502,000 deaths as of Monday, June 29, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has more than 2.5 million confirmed cases with more than 125,000 deaths.

The World Health Organization has declared coronavirus a global pandemic. In the United States, President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency.

Next: Kansas City mayor told he 'should swing from a tree' after issuing mask order

(c)2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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