I-TEAM: Ashland County restaurant owner says she was shut down for not wearing mask

Coronavirus

SAVANNAH, Ohio (WJW) — An Ashland County restaurant owner says she has been shut down for not wearing a mask.

Mandy Close, owner of Cattlemans Restaurant in Savannah, tells the FOX 8 I-TEAM that the Ashland County Health Department gave her a cease and desist order Wednesday and suspended her food service license.

“I am devastated,” Close said. “We survived the COVID-19 shutdown in the red and now this.”

The order states the action was taken for failing to comply with state rules.

“Specifically, the Cattlemans Restaurant is not in compliance with the requirements of the Ohio Department of Health Director’s Dine Safe Ohio Order issued May 14, 2020. Section 10, number iii states that ’employees, face coverings must be worn at all times unless exceptions apply.’”

Close has asked for an emergency meeting of the Ashland County Board of Health. Ashland County Health Commissioner Heather Reffett told the I-TEAM Friday a meeting date has not yet been finalized.

“I do not have a statement specific to Cattlemans,” Reffert said. “I will provide a general statement. The ACHD has invested a lot of time in providing public health education and technical assistance to our local businesses during this pandemic. We have worked with literally hundreds of businesses over these past few months. The vast majority of Ashland County business owners have demonstrated leadership and concern for others. It is quite a progressive path before ACHD engages in a formal enforcement action.” 

Close says she can’t wear a mask for medical reasons.  She also said the cook does not wear a mask when standing over the grill.

“My servers wear them when they are able to but I allow them to take them off if they have too,” Close said. She added that one server became overheated from wearing one. “We are spread over three rooms and they are running all over the restaurant.”

She said on June 19, she was contacted on the phone by a man, who said he was with the health department.

“He told me he got a complaint that a server was not wearing a mask,” Close said. “I told him that was true. I told him I don’t wear one because of a medical condition.  At first, I thought he was a scam because he had a heavy accent and was calling from a Toledo number. “

Close said after she got the call she placed a sign on the front door that states, “Attention: The server is not wearing a face mask, please do not enter premises if you feel unsafe.”

Close said she really felt the call was a scam.

“Then on June 24 at 9:10 at night he came to the restaurant,” Close said. “We were closed. I had some neighbors in and we were just talking. He did not have a business card. He was very unprofessional. He walked around and then left.”

Close said she didn’t hear anymore until this week when she got the notice her license was being suspended.

“The health department came here with the sheriff’s office and shut me down,” Close said. “ I always had a good relationship with the board of health and now I feel like they failed me.”

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