Kentucky Gas Station Owner Who Posted Sign Banning Masks Says Purpose Was to Say Government Can't Tell You What to Do

A Kentucky gas station owner posted a sign telling patrons face masks would not be allowed in his store, and that they should "go elsewhere" if they do not comply said the message was being misinterpreted.

The sign was posted to the front door of Alvin's, a gas station and convenience store in Manchester, Kentucky. "No face masks allowed in store. Lower your mask or go somewhere else! Stop listening to [Governor Andy Beshear], he's a [expletive]," it read.

Chris Stavely, who runs Alvin's with his wife, Marissa, told Newsweek that the sign was meant to get patrons to ask questions about it once they entered the store.

"The sign was meant to grab a person's attention so that they could come in and say, 'You can't tell me what to do.' That was our point. We can't tell you what to do and neither can the government. They need to stand up for what they believe in," Stavely said.

The gas station's Facebook account posted a similar explanation to Stavely's on Tuesday.

"We would like to clarify the statement behind our sign, we posted on the front door of our store. First of all, we would never deny any customer access inside our store, that is wearing a mask or not wearing a mask," the post read.

We would like to clarify the statement behind our sign, we posted on the front door of our store. First of all, we would...

Posted by Alvin's on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

"We are not telling you to not wear a mask, what we are saying is it's your choice to wear one or not, not our government's choice for us. While some got the meaning behind it, a lot did not. We didn't mean to offend anyone, but we will not apologize for our beliefs in our freedom to make our own decisions that our government wants to make for us. We strive to keep our customers safe, and our employees," the post continued.

Stavely reiterated to Newsweek that he has "never denied anyone wearing a mask or not wearing a mask."

"What has transpired with this sign was that a local resident saw the sign and blasted us on social media. He did not understand what it meant or where it came from. He never called the store and never came in to ask why we have the sign posted. If he had simply come into the store and spoken to us, this would not be a story," Stavely said.

When asked about a WYMT report that stated his store took down the sign after a visit from the local health department, Stavely said that was "fake news" because he has not talked to anybody from the health department regarding the incident.

Stavely said he has since removed the sign from Alvin's front door because "too many people did not understand what it was there for."

"We are basically a small business trying to stand up for our constitutional rights. We shouldn't be told what to do on every aspect of our lives," Stavely told Newsweek. He added that his store already sanitizes the dispensers on the gas pumps and the many surfaces inside the store.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on their website that people should wear face coverings in public where social distancing is not possible in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

There are 8,069 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Kentucky and 366 deaths attributed to the virus. The state also reports 2,826 recoveries from COVID-19, according to the Kentucky coronavirus website. Clay County, where Alvin's is located, has three cases and no deaths.

Beshear announced Tuesday at his coronavirus press conference that the state had its highest single-day death toll thus far with 20 deaths. When talking about Kentucky's ten rules for reopening, the governor stated that wearing masks, which is one of the rules, is there for people to protect others from possibly contracting the virus.

"Some people have objected to masks and the challenging part about that is you can object to a mask on your own personal health, but it is not your own personal health that it is going to impact. It is other people's health, so it is more about your willingness to protect other people if you are wearing or not wearing one," Beshear said.

Alvin's store logo in Manchester, Kentucky. Facebook