LOS ANGELSE — A Los Angeles taco shop closed both its locations Sunday, citing harassment from customers who refused to wear masks while ordering or picking up food.
In a message to customers, Hugo’s Tacos described the majority of their guests as respectful and kind as the restaurant operates with some restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the message said, “staff have been harassed, called names, and had objects and liquids thrown at them” as they enforce the mask requirement.
“Our Taco Stands are exhausted by the constant conflicts over guests refusing to wear masks,” the announcement said.
Signs about the facial covering rule are displayed on the premises, in the Atwater Village and Studio City neighborhoods.
“When you ask some of the customers, they get upset, they get mad. They don’t like to do that,” Executive Chef Nabor Diaz told KTLA. “At this point, it’s really important for us to put the safety of our crew first.”
“I just want to tell people out there to be respectful, to wear a mask,” Nabor said. “There’s other people around you. They have families that they need to go [home] to.”
On Facebook, people expressed support for the restaurant.
“I have been a customer for many years-what a shame that people are so selfish!” one person wrote.
Another said, “Wearing a mask isn’t a big deal.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Hugo’s Tacos employees.
California mandates everyone to wear facial coverings in public spaces with a few exceptions.
People dining at restaurants are only allowed to have their masks off when they’re eating or drinking and are able to maintain at least 6 feet away from others who are not members of their households, according to the state.
In Los Angeles County, COVID-19 infections have spiked 44% in just over two weeks among residents between 18 to 40 years old. While more testing among the age group may be a factor, officials said, the number of hospitalizations suggests an increased rate of virus transmission among communities.
The Department of Public Health earlier this week said 3,109 businesses that inspectors visited in recent weekends did not fully comply with the county’s safety guidelines.
In a statement Saturday, agency Director Barbara Ferrer said the county is at a “critical moment.”
She said, “If we can’t find it in us to follow these mandates, including wearing face coverings and distancing when around others, we jeopardize our ability to move forward on the recovery journey.”