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The Liberty Tree Tavern, located in Elgin -- about 25 miles east of Austin -- posted a sign that read: “Due to our concern for 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. Sorry, No Mask Allowed.”
The city has a population of around 10,000 residents, according to the 2018 census. Only 52 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak, Austin’s KXAN reported.
Kevin Smith, the tavern’s co-owner, told the station the ban was “more of a pushback” against snitches and contact tracers.
“This is still a rural county,” Smith said.
Public reaction has been mixed. Resident Ross Owens told KXAN he thought Liberty Tree’s policy was “foolish” and risky.
“They’re taking changes they don’t need to take, especially if they’re in public service,” he said.
Another resident, Charles Chamberlain, who survived stage 4 cancer, said the policy doesn’t bother him.
“It’s just a choice. He just put that up there to let people know if they aren’t feeling good, then they maybe shouldn’t come,” Chamberlain said. “Everybody is keeping safe distances, they aren’t bunching up.”
Liberty Tree Tavern still requires its patrons to maintain 6 feet of social distancing and abide by a requirement to maintain no more than 25 percent of the facility’s occupancy.