When Dallas couple Natalie Wester and Jose Lopez took a trip to Hang Time Grill and Bar, they were surprised when owner Tom Blackmer asked them to remove their masks.
The couple states that they were taking “extra precautions” due to their son having cystic fibrosis. Blackmer routinely reminds guests that his indoor bar is mask-free. The visiting couple was no exception.
In an interview conducted by Dallas Morning News, he stated, “If they are protecting themselves or if they’re protecting others, they should not be here […] if you’re scared, stay at home.”
Webster and her husband were asked to remove their masks after sitting down, so they paid their bar tab and left. The couple feels as though the owner was taking advantage of Texas’s conservative stance on mask mandates.
“My first thought is, we wear a mask to protect people, either ourselves or others,” said Webster. “But it seemed like their reasoning for not letting us wear a mask was purely political.” Blackmer insists that his decision isn’t political.
Blackmer’s decision to not allow mask-wearers in his bar and restaurant is entirely legal, for now. Since there is technically no local enforcement of mask mandates, Blackmer has the freedom to run his business as “he sees fit.” This includes dress code and wearing masks. Disability rights allow for wearing a mask, but they don’t protect Webster and Lopez since only their son qualifies as having a disability.
Still, the event caught fire on social media, making national news. Blackmer stands behind his decision not to allow masks in Hang Time.