Vancouver restaurant scraps masks for customers due to conflict

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A popular Vancouver restaurant has done away with its mask policy, saying it’s received too much pushback, even when face coverings were mandated by the province.

Mask-use in B.C. went from “mandatory” to “recommended”as of July 1. However, businesses are still able to require face coverings for customers and staff if they want to.

While Bon’s Off Broadway had initially planned to continue its mask mandate for patrons and staff, it recently scaled those requirements back to only apply to staff.

“I know a lot of people who have been told to wear a mask were the ones that were super emotional and aggressive about the mask wearing, and their rights and all that. So we’re not actually asking people to wear masks (anymore),” said Tony Wong, manager of the popular breakfast joint.

“Not even just 10 steps from the door to their table, they would cause a scene, be really forceful, be like it’s their constitutional rights — all these speeches they would do just so they wouldn’t have to wear a mask. It caused quite a safety matter for us and our staff.”

While he’d like to keep the mask policy in place for everyone coming into the restaurant, Wong says the aggression and tension has been too much to deal with.

And while he says many people have pushed back on the mask policy, Wong notes much of the struggle has come from regulars.

“Try telling your customers of 30 years that they have to follow a set of rules. You know that saying, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? I think throughout this pandemic, we’ve lost a lot of our longtime customers because of the protocols and rules,” Wong told NEWS 1130.

However, he says in some cases, regulars have come to understand the rationale behind the regulations, and have come back.

Wong admits the past year has been difficult on his business and staff. From restrictions on group sizes to restaurants being shuttered for all-but-takeout for months earlier this year, he says business has been slow.

“This has been going on for so long. I think everyone’s just tired of it. And a couple of restrictions lifted, I think it did wonders,” he explained. “Everyday, everyone’s more happy.”

He says he feels customers are even more receptive to other COVID-19 measures, now that some restrictions have eased.