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Hurricane restaurant changes stance on masks to avoid shutdown

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 11:46 PM EDT
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HURRICANE, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Adjusting to a new way of life has become a fact of life for restaurant owners and customers.

“This is a difficult industry to make it in without a pandemic,” said Andrew Stewart, owner of Bridge Cafe & Bistro in Hurricane.

After months of being shut down due to COVID-19, Stewart and his wife were finally able to open back up last Thursday -- only to find themselves faced with a potential closing again.

State reopening guidelines say employees need to wear masks. However, the rule wasn’t being enforced at Bridge Cafe & Bistro.

"We felt it best to leave it up to our staff and our patrons to make their own decisions," Stewart said.

The Putnam County Health Department disagreed and gave them a warning Thursday that employees needed to comply with wearing masks or else their business will be forced to shut down.

On Friday, health officers returned. After a brief inspection, a health inspector found the business to be compliant, as all employees were wearing masks.

Although the business was found compliant, Andrew still does not agree with mandating face masks.

"It's frustrating. It's frustrating to feel like we don't have a choice in how we run our business," Stewart said.

Frustrated, while focusing on the bigger picture.

"Right now it comes down to preserving our livelihood and the business that we've built in the last five years," Stewart said.

Moving on from masks and hoping to focus on the future.

This action from the health department has nothing to do with the indoor-face covering requirement that Gov. Jim Justice mandated this week, which doesn’t have penalties.

What’s happening at Bridge Cafe & Bistro is all based on the state’s reopening guidelines, which are laid out for all businesses and organizations across the state.

Copyright 2020 WSAZ. All rights reserved.

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