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'Some people believe it's a conspiracy': Vancouver restaurant owners enforce mask-wearing regulations

Restaurant owners say most guests gladly comply with state regulations but some still refuse to wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — As COVID-19 case numbers rise, many restaurant owners are more committed than ever to enforcing mask-wearing policies for guests.

On Mon. July 13, Mindy Nurmela and Darin Amick hit downtown Vancouver’s waterfront for dinner. It was the first time they'd dined out since mid-Mach. They wore masks as they walked into the restaurant and to their table, as required by the state.

“It was wonderful to get back out into the community and into a restaurant,” the couple said. “We took our masks off to eat but we felt very comfortable, we felt very safe.”

That's the hope for most restaurant owners. The reality is that not everyone wants to wear masks in public.

“Some people believe it's a conspiracy,” said Adam Collins, manager and sous-chef at WildFin American Grill on Vancouver’s waterfront.

Collins said, fortunately, nearly every customer who visits comes in wearing a mask or accepts one provided by the restaurant, but there are exceptions.

“We did have an incident yesterday when a gentleman brought in a hoax card that said he belonged to a group that was medically not able to wear a mask,” said Collins. “It was a bogus card. There is no such medical facility that endorses not wearing masks.”

Collins said that the customer left. Neighboring restaurants including Twigs Bistro and Maryhill Winery Tasting Room tell KGW nearly all of its customers have complied with mask regulations. Many may be anxious to retain the privilege of dining out while trying to keep others safe during the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered all bars and indoor dining to close amid California’s COVID-19 surge.

Even when dining outside, restaurant owners want guests to remember to bring masks. If guests need to use the bathroom or go inside for any reason, they’ll need to wear one, which some people forget.

“We do insist that people wear their masks,” said Collins. “It's for their safety, it's for our safety, as well.”

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