Covid NSW: Juice bar's controversial face mask policy sparks debate

·News Editor
·4-min read

A juice bar in a coastal NSW town has sparked debate with a controversial face mask policy.

With a mandate for all people to wear face masks indoors in NSW, the Nectar Juice House at Cabarita Beach on the Far North Coast has displayed a sign saying no questions will be asked of customers not wearing them. 

While it informs people of the mandate, the juice bar said it also understood there were a number of exemptions and did not want to shame anybody not wearing a mask.

"The NSW government has mandated mask use indoors but please be aware, if you're not wearing one we will assume you're exempt, no questions asked," the sign reads.

"We don't do judgements, shaming or discrimination here, so please know you will be warmly welcomed and respected however you show up."

The Nectar Juice House in Cabarita Beach. Source: Instagram
The Nectar Juice House in Cabarita Beach says it will not shame people for not wearing a mask. Source: Instagram

The town is not part of the Sydney lockdown that has been extended through to July 30, but face masks are required to be worn in public indoor settings.

Sign sparks debate

 People have praised the juice bar's stance on Instagram, with some dubbing it "amazing". 

"Honestly, every business needs to address mask wearing in this way! Well done to you guys," one said.

"As an autistic person who feels extreme sensory discomfort and anxiety from wearing masks – but is often too anxious to explain and doesn't want people to assume I'm an anti-masker of some kind – thank you," another added.

"Nice to see a business that gets it," a third added. 

"I've seen some pretty disgusting reactions from business owners throughout this period. I will not support a business that feels they have the right to harass or bully their customers."

However, others have expressed concern over the policy.

"It's pathetic and weak," one wrote.

"How f***ing hard is it to follow expert advice and wear a mask? You know full well that people with no valid exemption will take advantage of this business' approach."

Somebody else said it was "disgusting". 

"Well done for encouraging people with no valid exemption from wearing a mask to frequent this business."

The juice bar added in its Instagram post that it was taking the current Covid situation "very seriously" and staff members were wearing masks for the safety of others.

What are the face mask exemptions?

There are a number of exemptions under the public health order where some are not required to wear a face mask.

The NSW Government states you are exempt if you have a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, that makes wearing a mask unsuitable.

"For example, if you have a skin condition, an intellectual disability, autism or trauma, you are not required to wear a mask. 

"Please be respectful to people who are not wearing a mask as the reasons for not wearing are mask are not always visible or obvious."

Bunnings shopper spits on customer during mask dispute

Last week a search was underway for a Bunnings customer who allegedly spat on another shopper amid a dispute over a face mask in Sydney's north. 

NSW Police said the alleged victim, who was not wearing a face mask, was chastised by the man who then allegedly spat on him as he was leaving.

Deputy Police Commissioner Gary Worboys described the behaviour as "just disgusting". 

“The man who was doing the chastising decided to spit at that man,” he said.

"It is not called for.

"These are difficult times. If people have an issue they cannot resolve with some cordial communication between two people in and around these retail settings, they should ring the police. 

"There is no room to act in what is criminal behaviour and spit at a person because you don't like the answer that you got in terms of a face mask issue."

People who fail to wear a face mask without a lawful reason risk being slapped with a $200 fine. 

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