September 25, 2021
A Rowlett couple was left outraged after getting kicked out of a restaurant for wearing masks to protect their at-risk baby. The incident has earned them lots of sympathizers.
A woman's account of her experience at the Hang Time bar in Rowlett, Texas, has since divided the internet as netizens offer their varying opinions.
The woman, Natalie Wester, and her husband went to the bar and restaurant to cool off, along with some friends. At the entrance of the bar, one of the employees informed them to take off the masks while checking their IDs.
The couple obliged, thinking it was a protocol required for identification. However, soon after settling in their seats, a waitress came over, sat beside them, and said: "Our manager sent me over because I am nicer than he is. And yes, this is political."
The waitress proceeded to notify them that masks were forbidden in the establishment. Explaining further, the waitress said they had the right to make the rules since they ran a private business. Natalie recalled:
"She said the masks don't work. It's like using a chain-link fence to keep out the mosquitoes, and doesn't give people enough oxygen."
The stunned couple proceeded to explain to the waitress that they had a 4-month-old son, Austin, who suffered from cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disorder.
To protect their son, Natalie and her husband refrained from going out often. And when they did, they always wore masks. The information did not seem to stir the waitress, as she offered to close their check early if taking off their masks was an issue.
At the waitress' insistence, the devastated couple paid up and left the building. Natalie explained that while she and her husband chose not to cause a scene, the encounter left them angry and scared all at once.
She encouraged anyone wise enough to fear the coronavirus to avoid Hang Time, Rowlett, as it was a potential disaster. Concluding the post, she wrote:
"I'm so shocked at the level of ignorance in our country, and scared to think how much worse the pandemic will get knowing so many folks think this way."
While many netizens have sympathized with the couple's plight, others believed they brought it upon themselves for visiting a restaurant with a no-mask policy.
Some consoled the couple for encountering such in their efforts to protect their at-risk baby. One of the comments read: "So sorry this happened. You will never be sorry for protecting your baby. Prayers for your baby's health and your family. Hope others will learn from this."
Others chastised the parents for being nothing but attention-seekers since they made a fuss over taking off their masks, knowing they would have taken it off even without the restaurant's insistence. One wrote:
"So wait. You wear masks to protect your baby when you go to a bar where you'll take off the mask to drink out of the glasses that are probably hand-washed by someone with COVID."
Another referred to them as "poor crybabies," striving to get attention like a toddler. One commenter rebuked the couple for patronizing the restaurant in the first place, knowing their policies, saying: "You could have gone somewhere else..."
The parents' ordeal also caught the attention of the media, especially as many have criticized them for deciding to hang out in a public place despite their child's health. Speaking to news outlets, Natalie explained:
"If you've ever been new parents, having those couple of hours out like once or twice a month is so important for your mental health."
In another interview, Natalie explained it was never her intention to slander the business, as she only wanted to vent her frustrations.
She believed the mentality of the restaurant owners and others like them greatly contributed to the spread of the virus, hence the need to warn others to be safe.
The restaurant owner Tom Blackmer has also addressed the issue, saying he reserved the right to refuse customers who didn't abide by the dress code. He admitted that he implemented the no-mask policy in April because he felt masks did nothing to prevent COVID-19.
Rather, it gave potential criminals the excuse to enter his establishment unidentified and get away with robbery, theft, or vandalism. Hence, the policy was not intended to put his customers at risk but to protect his business.
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