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Some regulars at an Alabama restaurant say they won’t be back after the owner imposed an “indefinite” ban on county and state health officials in response to what he calls “draconian” health rules amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Mike Heffelfinger, owner of the Johnny Gryll’s burger joint in Huntsville, sparked backlash Wednesday when he announced certain individuals, including Madison County Health Officer Dr. Karen Landers and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, were no longer allowed inside his restaurant.
“This ban is in response to draconian health orders issued by the aforementioned individuals requiring most people to wear a mask in Madison County and ultimately all of Alabama,” according to a statement posted on the pub’s Facebook page.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, Madison Mayor Paul Finley and Gov. Kay Ivey were also among those on the banned list.
On Wednesday, Ivey ordered a statewide mask mandate in response to a rapid rise in coronavirus cases, McClatchy News reported. Alabama has reported more than over 60,000 COVID-19 cases and 1,200 deaths as of July 16, according to data from the state Department of Public Health.
“These orders create unnecessary stress, liability, and physical, mental and financial burdens on the restaurant and its employees,” Heffelfinger said on Facebook.
The backlash was swift, with many customers vowing to take their business elsewhere.
“I’ve been at your establishment TWICE and never spending another dime there,” one user commented on the Johnny Gryll’s Facebook page. “This is the most selfish, careless thing I have seen yet.”
“If that’s how seriously you take health orders and public safety I’m not sure I would want to eat here anymore anyway,” another wrote.
“I love it when companies rage announce their idiotic views so the rest of us know where not to spend our money,” one critic chimed in.
Per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, face masks should be used to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which, as of Thursday, has infected more than 3.5 million people in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.
Calls and emails for comment from Johnny Gryll’s weren’t returned to McClatchy News.