A video of smiling, maskless customers and employees in a Naples, Florida grocery store went viral last week, sparking furious reactions from mask proponents, the Washington Examiner reported.
The cell phone video footage was captured and posted online by NBC reporter Sam Brock.
As #Flordia fights community spread of COVID on a massive scale, this is a 15-second snapshot of a supermarket in Naples. Many employees and customers- even older ones- with no masks on inside. Store sign outside cites “medical exemptions,” we can’t ask questions. @NBCNews pic.twitter.com/rNUSOPLjeB
— Sam Brock (@SamBrockNBC) February 3, 2021
The comments on Brock’s post contained just a sampling of the vicious response many had to the mask-free scene inside the busy store. “Couldn’t care less about the lives of any individual in this store. But I ache for the people these disgusting brain damaged anti lifers will infect and the poor healthcare workers that will have to risk their lives to care for them. These a**holes don’t deserve food,” actress Nancy Lee Grahn tweeted.
“The man who owns this store – Seed to Table- is ferociously bigoted, unhinged, hysterical, inhumane. What you need to know is that many Naples residents shop there not in spite of him, but because of him,” author Glennon Doyle wrote on Twitter.
Store allows medical exemptions to mask requirement
According to NBC News, the South Florida grocery store was identified as Oakes Farms Seed to Table Market in Naples. Owner Alfie Oakes has made it known that he is no fan of mask-wearing requirements that have been suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and mandated by some state and local governments.
Collier County, where the store is located, has imposed a mask requirement on businesses, but as was pointed out by Brock, Oakes had posted a sign outside stating that the store would not enforce that requirement or question those with medical exemptions to mask-wearing.
“Those in our lovely government have ordered all persons entering indoor facilities to wear a mask. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you are exempt from this order. Due to HIPAA and the 4th Amendment we cannot legally ask you about your medical condition,” the sign read. “Therefore, if we see you without a mask, we will assume you have a medical condition and we will welcome you inside to support our business.”
Owner questions COVID reporting
After the video went viral, Oakes appeared on NBC’s “Today” show to discuss his stance on masks. “I know that the masks don’t work, and I know that the virus has not killed 400,000 people in this country. That’s total hogwash,” he said. “Why don’t we shut the world down because of a heart attack? Why don’t we lock down cities because of heart attacks?”
The Hill reported that according to statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University, more than 26 million people have been infected and nearly 453,000 have died in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. Florida has reportedly had around 1.7 million confirmed cases and about 27,000 deaths, while in Naples, there have been approximately 27,000 cases and 413 deaths reported from COVID-19.