As many parts of the county continue to ease social distancing measures, one bar in Texas has gone so far to actually ban patrons from wearing masks. The aptly-named “Liberty Tree Tavern,” a popular watering hole along the main street in Elgin—a small town about 25 miles east of Austin, home to just over 10,000 residents—recently instated the no mask policy after bars were permitted to reopen at limited capacity on May 22.
“Due to our concern for our customers, if they FEEL (not think), that they need to wear a mask, they should stay home until they FEEL that it’s safe to be in public without one,” reads a prominently-placed sign in the bar’s entrance. “Sorry, No Mask Allowed,” it adds.
Kevin Smith, who co-owns the Liberty Tree Tavern, told the local NBC affiliate, KXAN, that his policy is “more of a push back” for ‘the snitches, and the contact tracers out there,” adding that it’s “still a rural county.”
Be that as it may, but not everyone is on board with the new policy. “I think that’s a risk. I think that’s foolish,” said one Elgin local, Ross Ownes, who was interviewed for the story. “They’re taking chances they don’t need to take, especially if they’re in public service.”
Though Smith may be alienating many of his potential customers, at least one Liberty Tree regular is fine with the no mask policy.
Charles Chamberlain, 58, is a regular at Liberty Tree and Stage 4 cancer survivor who, by his own admission, has been to the bar three times since reopening. And despite the fact that Chamberlain’s medical history makes him at high risk for the virus, he seems unbothered by the policy.
“I was quarantined in the Med Center for 12 months during my cancer treatments in Houston,” Chamberlain told KXAN. When I quit my treatments the doctor asked me if I was ready to die, and I looked at him and said, ‘This ain’t even living, it’s existing.’ This quarantine… that’s not living, that’s existing.”
“Going to the bar, going to the lake, going swimming with your friends, barbecuing, fishing — that’s living,” he continued. “You should have a choice of what you want to do. If I get it, I get it. If I do, I’ll deal with that. You can’t live forever.”
Given the fact that President Trump refuses to wear a mask in public and has even mocked his political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden for doing so, it’s not difficult to see how some of his supporters likewise carry such a cavalier attitude. Unfortunately, not wearing a mask is more of a health risk to others than to yourself, so hopefully, anyone thinking of patronizing Smith’s establishment will keep that fully in mind.