Meeting friends for a drink can be hard to do under the best circumstances. It’s harder during a pandemic. But new mom Natalie Wester found a trusted babysitter—her mom—and went with her husband, Jose Lopez, to the Hang Time Sports Bar & Grill in Rowlett, Texas, to get a break from caring for her 4-month-old son. The baby, Austin, has cystic fibrosis and would suffer severe consequences if he caught COVID, so his parents, who are vaccinated, mask up for extra protection when they go out. Wester and Lopez didn’t know the bar they went to had a no-mask policy. In a Facebook post, Wester said that when they entered, they were told to take off their masks, but because the music was loud, she didn’t understand that it wasn’t just for an ID check but a policy.
Soon, a waitress came to their table to tell them to take their masks off. Wester said she explained that she had an infant at home with a life-threatening genetic disorder, but the waitress told her to leave if they were going to wear masks. The bar’s owner, Tom Blackmer, said that sounds about right to him. He told the Washington Post that he doesn’t want masks worn in his establishment and thinks they are pointless in regard to COVID. As for Wester and Lopez—“if you are protecting somebody, you should not go out,” he told the Dallas Morning News. Anyone else who objects to the policy can simply go to another bar, he adds.
Wester has taken a little heat from commenters on her public post. Some took screenshots and reposted pics of Wester without a mask at an outdoor concert. Wester told the Post that she had only removed her mask for a photo. Other commenters took her to task for going out at all. Backlash against Blackmer has been harsh, too, with his former address revealed on Twitter and several phone calls to the bar. He claims he’s not bothered by it. ”If we don’t have a business next week, we’ll be fine.” (Read more face masks stories.)