"Due to our concern for our customers, if they FEEL (not think) that they need to wear a mask, they should stay at home until they FEEL that it's safe to be in public without one. Sorry, No Mask Allowed," a sign posted in front of the bar read.
Smith claimed he was taking precautions inside the bar by mandating social distancing and limiting occupancy, but will reportedly ask people to leave if they try to wear a protective facial covering inside the tavern.
He went so far as to tell The Washington Post that if they were only allowed to operate at 25% capacity, he did not want customers who were "p*ssies" or "sheep" in his establishment.
"Being scared all the time isn't good for your health. It suppresses your immune system."According to KXAN-TV, Elgin is a relatively small town with only about 10,000 residents. So far, the town has only had 53 people test positively for COVID-19 and only one reported death from the disease.
The Liberty Tree Tavern's decision makes it an anomaly along Main Street, where several other restaurants and businesses are requiring their customers to wear masks.
The owner of ETX Travel in Elgin, Sherrill Schier, does not wear a mask, but she keeps them handy for any patrons who may want one. Schier said she knows "a lot of people," but none who have contracted the virus.
She believes that because the town is small and they do not get many crowds, they're doing okay.
Several regulars at the Liberty Tree Tavern told reporters they were not bothered by the mask policy. One man, Charles Chamberlain, said he had been eagerly waiting for the tavern to reopen. Chamberlain is a stage 4 cancer survivor and stated he was comfortable with the bar's decision to ban masks. He also allegedly survived the H1N1 virus.
"If I get it, I get it. If I do, I'll deal with that. You can't live forever," Today reported him as saying.
The outlet pointed out that restaurants and bars across the country are grappling with the decision of whether to mandate masks. John Rich, who owns the Redneck Riveria in Nashville, Tennessee, has required his employees to wear masks, but will not require the same of customers.
Rich previously spoke with Today, saying he felt the government needed to treat people "like adults." He added that he was fully aware of the deadly nature of the virus. He claimed many of their customers wore masks and they kept some extras on hand in case anyone asked for one.