Cafe Defying Mask Mandate Avoids Closure by Turning Into Private Club

A cafe in Missouri that was ordered to shut down by local government for breaching mask rules is turning into a private club to circumvent county-wide COVID restrictions.

Rae's Cafe in the city of Blue Springs was ordered to immediately shut down on September 3 by the Jackson County health department, after it received several complaints that staff were not complying with county mask mandates. Jackson County requires everyone to wear masks indoors at public places, regardless of whether they've been vaccinated.

But the cafe's owner formulated a plan to keep the venue open, putting up a sign on the door saying the business would now operate as a "private club," which are exempt from the state's mask mandate.

Owner Amanda Wohletz told the local news network that no masks would be allowed in her venue and that she doesn't feel her staff has done anything wrong as they don't wear masks for medical reasons.

She received a warning, two tickets, and a notice that warned her cafe was failing to comply with the mask mandate.

"Despite our multiple attempts to work with the business to comply, the owner knowingly and willingly continued to violate the health order," county administrator Troy Schulte said in a statement to Fox4.

"It is clear by the number of complaints we received that people in our community are concerned about the spread of the virus and are holding others accountable to prevent further pain, sickness and death in our community. Our order is in place to protect public health. We are grateful for those businesses who are doing their part to help us get through this pandemic and will continue to act accordingly for those who are not."

Wohletz said she plans to keep her venue open if the authorities allow it.

"As long as I can, as long as they let me," Wohletz told FOX4. "They told me they were not going to renew my business permit or my health permits to close me indefinitely... which is completely illegal."

Community members were split on the cafe's refusal to impose a mask mandate.

"If I was in a restaurant and I was eating the food, I would kind of want the people in the restaurant wearing a mask while being served," Michael Herrick told Oklahoma's News4.

Others wanted to get involved and join the club.

"I'm going to have to get their number and join it. I will support anybody that will stand up to a bunch of bolognas," Walter Kirk said.

Newsweek has contacted Schulte and Wohlet for comment.

Rae's Cafe in Blue Springs, Missouri
A Google Streetview shot of Rae's Cafe in Blue Springs, Missouri. The venue was ordered to shut down by local government due breaching COVID-19 mask rules, but is turning into a private club to circumvent virus restrictions. Google Street View