Florida Bar Owner Bans Masks Inside: ‘I Don’t Want Them Here’

by Caroline Bynum
(Photo Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The owner of a Florida bar has banned the wearing of masks in his establishment. While many restaurants and bars require face coverings as a COVID-19 safety precaution, this owner says he disagrees with the entire notion.

Westside Sports Bar and Lounge began banning patrons wearing masks on September 11, says Fox25 Orlando. The mandate in West Melbourne, Florida, where the bar is located, states that restaurants must have a sign on the front door stating their mask policy. The ordinance does not state that masks are required in all establishments. Of course, Westside Sports Bar’s mask policy is different than most: the sign on their door says “MASKS PROHIBITED”

Another sign on the front door reads “End this nonsense,” prompting readers to trash their masks. “Tuesday, September 15. All over the world. We will all stop wearing masks. Just throw that filthy thing away,” it says in bold letters

The owner of the bar and lounge, Gary Kirby, tells Fox35 that mask mandates are “hindering our lifestyle as we know it.”

Kirby clarifies to Florida Today that he agrees that the coronavirus exists. “I do agree that there is a virus, with a 1% death rate,” he says. He just believes the risk is not nearly as high as many news outlets report, saying “I feel like we are statistically just as likely to get hit by a train.”

Westside Sports Bar & Lounge takes precautions, but masks are not one of the safety provisions. “We do take precautionary measures, as far as extra cleaning and social distancing,” Kirby explains to Florida Today. The bar even has a doorman who sits out front and takes customers temperatures before they enter. “But as far as the face masks, I do not approve of that. I do not support it. And I won’t have it.”

Fox35 explains part of Kirby’s dislike of safety masks is due to a recent robbery. The suspect who broke into Gary Kirby’s bar was wearing a surgical mask. The crime has yet to be solved, increasing the owner’s mistrust of face masks.

Kirby reports that he is receiving many compliments and support. He says he has gotten social media messages saying “Hey, football, we are coming there to watch the game.”

Many others have been critical of the potentially dangerous decision, writing critiques on Twitter. One Twitter writes, “Because death is somehow preferable to losing a chance to drink.” Another critiques the entire state of Florida, saying, “Florida just never ceases to not amaze me.”