San Antonio Bar Owner Says New Face Mask Order Discriminates Against Small Businesses

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Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued an executive order Wednesday morning that will require businesses' customers and employees to wear face coverings or face a $1000 fine for each offense.

It's an order at least one San Antonio bar owner says puts an unfair burden on small businesses.

Starting Monday, peace officers will be able to issue $1,000 citations for each violation of the order and will respond to public complaints about businesses that are allegedly not complying.

“What I am up in arms [about] … is that the fine associated with lack of face masks is placed directly on the business, not on the individual,” Braunda Smith, chef-owner of Lucy Cooper’s Texas Ice House, said in a Facebook post. “A $1000 fine, are you kidding me[?]”

Wolff’s order comes as the second blow this week to Texas bar owners, who were warned Tuesday via a press release that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is prepared to pursue emergency liquor license suspensions for businesses in violation of state-mandated capacity limits and social-distancing policies.

The involvement of TABC, the state agency that regulates alcoholic beverages, could be seen as a way to single out Texas bars, pushing a very specific niche of small business owners closer to failure — in an already suffering industry.

“We are already jumping through all of your mandates and hoops just to be open,” Smith wrote. “We are being singled out and set up for failure with all of these discrimination practices being set in place. … Unless you do it for all, don’t do it at all!”

She points out that big box stores have yet to close, or suffer loss of sales, and that the fear of losing a business or livelihood is one unique to small business owners.

“It’s not about the masks,” Smith told the Current in a text message. “It’s about small businesses being responsible for the fines of individuals.”

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