After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifted all COVID restrictions in the state last week, the decision to enforce public health guidelines fell to local business owners. A few Mexican restaurants in the Houston area have announced that they will continue to require that patrons and staff wear masks in their establishment.
Now patrons are threatening to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on employees over their refusal to work maskless, according to some restaurant owners.
Monica Richards, the co-owner of Picos, told the Washington Post that she and her staff have received hateful messages on social media and at the store via phone along with threats to report staffers to ICE.
“It was just horrific,” Richards said. “People don’t understand unless you’re in our business what it felt like, how hard it was to go through everything we went through during covid. For people to be negative toward us for trying to remain safe, so that this doesn’t continue to happen, just makes zero sense to us.”
Steven O’Sullivan, the owner of Cantina Barba in Houston, said they’ve received similar threatening messages.
“This has been ongoing through covid,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve had threats of calling ICE. I had one guy just stand there and berate one of my bartenders and tell her ‘you’re an absolute idiot, you don’t know what you’re doing. If you think these masks are going to save your life, you’re stupid’ blah, blah, blah. Nobody wants to deal with that stuff.”
Last week, Abbott lifted all COVID restrictions in the state and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves lifted the state’s mask mandate.
“I understand the need to want to get back to normality, but you’re only going to set yourself back if you just completely push aside the public health guidelines — particularly when we’re dealing with anywhere from 55,000 to 70,000 infections per day in the United States,” Anthony Fauci said.
President Biden also blasted the move calling it ‘Neanderthal thinking.’
“The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that, in the meantime, everything is fine. Take off your mask. Forget it. It’s still matters,” Biden said.