New Hampshire Restaurant Owner Chooses to Close Rather Than Follow Mask Rules

The owner of a New Hampshire ice cream shop and diner has chosen to close his doors, rather than comply with the state's mask requirements.

Roselynn Ice Cream and Diner in Epping shut on Sunday after operating in violation of coronavirus rules requiring employees to wear masks or face coverings.

Owner Joe Bodge told WHDH that he would rather close his establishment than comply with guidance for businesses aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus.

"We stood this long for what we believe in," he said. "What's our options? Do we cow down and figure out a way to follow the rules... or do we make a stand?

"It was a unanimous decision to make our stand, to say we're not going to bow down."

In a post on Facebook, the business told followers that it will remain closed until "further notice."

Bodge told Newsweek: "The state mandates employees who come close to customers must mask, but for customers it is only a recommendation. That's the state law.

"We have never hid that we are mask-free for various health reasons. We don't force people to stay, 95 percent of the people happily take their masks off as they walk through the door, our regulars don't even bother bring them in. People thank us for giving them a small sense of normalcy. We go overboard on sanitizing and have had 0 cases."

He said: "I opened this place for us to all do something together. A passion. A place to cook, bake and socialize.

Bodge said that he would only reopen his business, where signs supporting President Donald Trump have been put up on display, when the state's mask requirements change.

He said "science does not back" mask mandates, a sentiment that echoes Trump's rhetoric.

The president—who recently contracted coronavirus himself—has often contradicted the recommendations of his own White House coronavirus task force and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on masks.

The CDC recommends the public wear masks in public settings around people who don't live in their household, especially when it is not possible to maintain social distancing.

In a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a task force member and the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said there is "no doubt" that masks prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Fauci also said Trump's suggestion that wearing a mask is a sign of weakness makes no sense to him. Trump has repeatedly issued verbal attacks against Fauci, including calling him "a disaster."

The Fauci interview aired after Twitter removed a tweet by White House coronavirus adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, that claimed masks do not work. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed to Newsweek that the tweet had violated the platform's COVID-19 misleading information policy.

Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no expertise in infectious disease or epidemiology, joined the White House as an adviser in August. Since then, he has reportedly increasingly guided the Trump administration's coronavirus response, while Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, have been largely sidelined.

Last month, Fauci told CNN's Brian Stelter that he was concerned Atlas was providing misleading or incorrect information on the pandemic to Trump. "Well yeah, I'm concerned that sometimes things are said that are really taken either out of context or actually incorrect," he said.

This article has been updated with additional comments from Joe Bodge.

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A "wear a mask, protect your neighbor" sign is displayed at a restaurant on September 22, in New York City. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images