Customer rage over mask rules takes toll on local employees

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 6:27 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Masks and face coverings are a sign of the times, and the norm these days: some businesses and restaurants require you to wear one.

It’s something not everyone takes kindly to, and we’re learning it creates challenges for businesses as well. Some owners say dealing with angry customers are starting to take a toll.

At Antonio’s Italian Eatery, there’s signs everywhere telling people to wear a mask. But they say one of their employees is quitting because they’re tired of being harassed after asking customers to put wear a mask.

But Antonio’s didn’t make the rules. They’re just following them.

“What my staff up front is experiencing is people who don’t believe there’s a virus,” Donna Gentile said. “Who thinks it’s all political. Who don’t want to wear facemasks."

Gentile and her husband own the eatery. They’ve stayed open the whole pandemic because of community support.

But they are asking the community for kindness after an employee said they were tired of being argued with over masks.

“Unfortunately, sometimes being verbally chastised because they don’t believe in wearing a mask. It’s going to take a toll on them,” Gentile said.

We asked on Facebook how customers reacted across our area. The responses ranged from some being cussed out to mostly everyone following the rules.

We also called 10 different businesses in Augusta. Some said there have been no issues. Others said there’s often an attitude.

“No issues at all, actually the opposite. I think most people when they come in notice that we are following the CDC guidelines. We have the sneeze guards,” Jeremy Miller of Southern Sala said.

Miller says he always approaches people politely. With this, kindness has to go both ways.

“I just want them to treat our staff with kindness. They have enough stress all day working in a restaurant,” Miller said.

Antonio’s says what’s the big issue? They stand next to 500-degree ovens with one on all day.

On both the Georgia and South Carolina side, masks are required in most places.

But if you’re in a restaurant, you only have to wear it when you aren’t sitting at a table.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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