San Francisco, CA

This cafe is charging a $5 fee for wearing a mask

Josue Torres

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A cafe owner who shut down his business last year instead of forcing employees to wear face masks is now charging a $5 fee to each client who wears a mask.

And any consumer “caught bragging” about being vaccinated will be charged an additional $5.

Chris Castleman, the proprietor of Fiddleheads café in Mendocino, and a lifelong opponent of mandatory pandemic face masks, placed his new guidelines on the front door this week.

The sign said, “$5 fee added to orders placed while wearing a face mask.” “Additional $5 fee added if you are caught bragging about your vaccine.”

Masks have been proved to reduce coronavirus transmission, and public health professionals believe they are still one of the best methods for individuals who have not been vaccinated to protect themselves, but the subject has been politicized.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who have been completely vaccinated against COVID-19 may remove their masks in most indoor and outdoor settings, although existing masking requirements in California will stay in effect until June 15

Masks are essential in indoor situations outside the house, whether or not a person has been vaccinated. Except in congested areas, fully vaccinated people are not required to wear masks outside.

Castleman, a 34-year-old former campsite host who has owned the café for three years, claimed roughly 20 customers paid the $5 price and another 20 refused. 

He said that he intends to donate the funds to a local domestic abuse shelter. He opposes obligatory mask restrictions because “people should be allowed to chose for themselves,” he says.

The café owner closed his restaurant in June after the county fined him $10,000 for numerous safety issues. He reopened in March, he explained, while the fine is being appealed.

Castleman said that he is not aware of anybody who has contracted COVID-19.

“That doesn’t mean it’s not real, but it hasn’t affected me personally,” he added.

His position about masks has made him a local pariah, he admits, and he was thrown out of the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department last year. 

He denied that the $5 price was a gimmick to get people to notice his cafe.

“I’d much rather have these mask rules not happen than sell hamburgers,” he remarked.

Mendocino County is now in the yellow reopening stage, which permits eateries to operate at 50% capacity inside.

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