California Café Charges Fee for Customers Wearing Mask or ‘Bragging’ About Vaccine

A café owner in Northern California has hung up a sign on his business’s window stating anyone who places an order while wearing a face mask will be charged a fee.

“$5 FEE ADDED TO ORDERS PLACED WHILE WEARING A FACE MASK,” says the message posted on May 28 at the Fiddleheads Café in Mendocino, Fox News reported. In addition, anyone who is heard “bragging” about being vaccinated will also have to pay the penalty.

Chris Castleman, the eatery’s owner and a vocal critic of lockdowns since the start of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, explained to the outlet fees will directly go to “charities that have been overwhelmed by the collateral damage of government lockdowns.”

“I’ve been asked this entire time to put on a mask and that’s not a large request, all I’m asking is a $5 donation to charity and I don’t think that’s too much,” he said.

Castleman said the idea for the sign emerged because he believes restrictions that are put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have not only been unsuccessful, but destructive.

A person walks past a closed restaurant
A closed restaurant in Los Angeles, Calif., on Dec. 8, 2020. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

Castleman noted that he is not forcing anyone to pay the $5 fee and everyone needs to have “freedom to breathe.” Donations made will go directly to charities supporting domestic abuse, and already about 100 people have done so.

“There’s no straight line from mask-wearing to domestic abuse, but I see it as one part of a giant piece that’s forcing people to stay at home, remove their freedoms, remove their jobs, and forces them into situations of despair,” he said.

Currently, Mendocino County, where the cafe is located, is still requiring people to wear face masks regardless of vaccination status. The indoor capacity for restaurants in the county is limited to 50 percent.

It hasn’t been the first time for Castleman to make the news while expressing his views over COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions.

Last June, the eatery owner closed up the café rather than requiring his employees to wear a mask after he was hit with a $10,000 fine. About two months prior to the closure, he hung up a message that read: “THROW YOUR MASK IN THE TRASH BIN AND RECEIVE 50% OFF YOUR ORDER.”

California plans to fully reopen its economy on June 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on April 6, as long as the state has enough COVID-19 vaccines for those age 16 and older and hospitalization rates continue to be low and stable.

California Governor Gavin Newsom
California Governor Gavin Newsom attends the opening of the country’s first federal and state operated community vaccination site during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 16, 2021. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Newsom said Californians will still need to wear masks, and testing or vaccination verification requirements will still be performed where necessary.

The coastal state is one of a few nationwide that keeps a mask-mandate after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on May 13 eased mask-wearing guidance and said that people vaccinated against COVID-19 can stop wearing masks inside in most places.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a news conference. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment, when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

Fully vaccinated people should still wear masks on buses, trains, airplanes, and other public transportation, she said, adding that for those who aren’t vaccinated, the CDC recommends that they wear masks in public spaces.