Texas bar owner bans masks to prevent ‘virtue signaling’ – and kickstarts an online firestorm

A bar owner in Elgin, Texas, has implemented a new rule for his business: no entry with a mask.

“Due to our concern for our citizens, if they feel the need to wear a mask, then they should probably stay home until it’s safe," read a sign posted outside Liberty Tree Tavern.

Speaking to 9News, bar owner Kevin Smith said he's following social distancing guidelines so the masks are unnecessary.

The bar's Facebook page shared an article on the story, adding the comment: "Just trying to break this cycle of fear and virtue signaling. The CDC, Surgeon General, and even Fauci say, these mask do nothing and can even cause more harm. The county mandate has been lifted, the sun is shining, let's get back to living our lives without fear!"

The comment section filled up with a mix of reactions.

"PATRIOTS!!" one person wrote. "I will be there this weekend to support [your] business. THANK YOU FOR STANDING UP TO THE MADNESS!!"

While there were supportive comments, others questioned the wisdom of the rule.

"So a Veteran comes to your bar wearing a mask for his/her own personal safety, ban or no ban???" asked Thomas Salmela.

"How about gratitude that people even want to come to liberty tree? With or without masks?" wrote Deaniel Plumley. "Gratitude that you're healthy enough to run your business? Gratitude that you even still have a business! A lot of people have lost a lot during all this."

"I have cancer," wrote Denise E. Nicole. "For 2.5 years a mask has helped keep me healthy and alive during near nonstop chemo. Nice to know I'd be unwelcome, judged, maybe even bullied at your restaurant."

The city of Elgin has a little over 10,000 residents. According to health data, 52 of those residents have tested positive for coronavirus.