The parents of an immunocompromised 4-month-old said they were forced to end a rare night out early after a restaurant manager in Rowlett, Texas, kicked them out of his establishment for wearing face masks. The couple has said they are both fully vaccinated but were wearing the masks in an effort to further protect their vulnerable infant son by limiting the possibility that they might bring the virus home to him. The manager of Hang Time Sports Grill & Bar, however, has said he believes strongly in his “no masks” rule.
Natalie Wester and her husband Jose Lopez-Guerrero told CNN they were excited to find themselves with the rare opportunity to spend a child-free evening catching up with friends earlier this month. “We are new parents and in the middle of a pandemic, we don’t really get out a whole lot,” Wester said. “But that Friday night my mom happened to be available to watch our son ... Living in a pandemic, being isolated and away from others is a big deal for our mental and social health.”
The couple said that because their son has cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening disorder that can cause severe damage to the lungs and increase one’s risk of experiencing severe illness from Covid-19, they have made sure to take precautions amid the pandemic. That includes getting vaccinated and wearing face masks when out in public.
In fact, Wester and her husband were wearing face masks when they arrived at Hang Time Sports Grill & Bar in Rowlett to hang out with friends. Their night was cut short, however, when a member of the wait staff told them the restaurant had a “no masks” policy. “About 30 minutes in, our waitress comes over and she sits down next to me and she's like, 'Hey, so our manager is over there in the kitchen, and he is not as nice as I am so I came over here to talk to you and unfortunately, this is a political thing, but our manager does not believe in the mask,’” Wester told CNN.
Wester said the waitress told them the manager was “tired of being told what to do by politics” and that they’d have to take off their masks if they wanted to stay. When the parents tried to explain they had an immunocompromised infant at home they were told there were no exceptions to the rule.
In an interview with local CBS News affiliate KTVT, the owner of Hang Time said he feels the country’s reaction to masks has become ridiculous. “I have spent my money on the business, my blood sweat and tears [are] in this business, and I don’t want masks in here,” the news outlet reported the owner, who would identify himself only as Tom, said. “I feel the overall reaction with masks is ridiculous in the United States right now.”
According to KTVT, there are no signs posted at Hang Time to notify customers of the restaurant’s “no mask” policy. Instead, the hostess and wait staff are tasked with telling anyone wearing a mask to take them off. Romper has reached out to Hang Time for additional comment.
Wester told CNN the incident has made her re-think how necessary social nights away from her child might be. “All the steps to get a babysitter or have my son be watched — that’s a step in itself — but then going out and having to deal with people like this who are anti-maskers ... and who are making it a really political issue when it should be a science issue,” she told the cable news network. “It's kind of just made me realize that maybe I shouldn't go out anymore. At least not here in Texas. Not right now. It's just it's not a good environment.”