ALEXANDRIA BAY — As restaurants and other small businesses have reopened, they’ve been required to ensure that their patrons wear masks while inside.

But some customers have pushed back against the mask requirement. According to Peter Cavallario, owner of Cavallario’s Pizza in downtown Alexandria Bay, a small minority of customers have refused to wear a mask when entering his business.

“Right now we’re telling people without masks, ‘Sorry, we can’t serve you, you’ll have to go,’” he said.

As restaurants in the state have reopened, they have been subject to restrictions meant to limit the potential spread of COVID-19. In the north country, restaurants can seat up to 50 percent of their dining room capacity indoors, while ensuring that customers are 6 feet apart from other tables when seated. Customers must wear masks when not seated at their table, and staff must wear masks at all times.

No mask? No service

Customers wait outside of Cavallario’s Pizza on James Street in Alexandria Bay on Sunday afternoon. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

In a Facebook post on the Cavallario’s Pizza page, written by Mr. Cavallario’s daughter, she chastises other restaurants that aren’t requiring customers to comply, and customers who refuse to wear their masks.

“Ninety percent of the people come to the door without a mask on, 99 percent put it on when asked,” the Facebook post reads. “1 percent freak out, spout off their constitutional rights, ADA, medical problems, other restaurants didn’t require it, or the best one is, ‘we are from another state and it’s not required.’”

Across the region, businesses are responsible for ensuring that customers comply with the mask mandates, and can be shut down if the state discovers that the business is allowing mask-less customers inside.

Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo even threatened to reverse the reopening process in regions of the state where mandates like social distancing and mask-wearing are not being followed.

No mask? No service

The Riverboat Bar on Church Street, Alexandria Bay. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

“Everyone else in town is having the same frustrations,” said Megan Cavallario, manager of The Riverboat Bar.

The issue is not just that customers don’t have masks on hand. According to Ms. Cavallario, many times the issue is that the customer does not want to wear a mask at all. In the event that a customer refuses to wear a mask, even when offered one, they are asked to leave the restaurant.

Mr. Cavallario said that turning customers away is a hard thing for him to do.

“To turn away customers, when you’re not limited to a 50 percent capacity, is a difficult thing,” he said. “We’re still at 50 percent capacity, and turn turn someone away when we’re not full to that limit, it hurts.”

While county health departments are checking with businesses to ensure that they are following the rules, it’s the servers, bartenders, managers and other employees of these restaurants who have to ask customers to put on a mask or leave. Some customers react negatively.

No mask? No service

State COVID-19 guidelines sit on display inside Cavallario’s Pizza in Alexandria Bay on Sunday. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

“I don’t think we have anyone on staff who’s unable to deal with it, but we have had multiple employees cursed out,” Ms. Cavallario said.

Going forward, she said that she hopes more people will be aware and comply with the mask requirement. She said she doesn’t believe the mask mandate will go away any time soon, so the only thing to be done is ensure that people continue to wear their masks.

“I think that the more we have to keep telling people, and the more they get turned away, the more they’ll have to realize they have to comply or they aren’t going to be able to go out right now,” Ms. Cavallario said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(19) comments

Eagle24

The Cavallario's are a wonderful local family business...been here for generations, and are an asset to the village... If protecting their family means wearing a mask, wear one...if not, take your MAGA hat and move on...

minder

Why would anyone give these poor businesses who are struggling to get reopened safely and STAY open any more grief? Do the reality deniers think the business owners and their employees haven't already suffered enough so they'll add to it by being jerks? Grow up and be responsible! Stop being so horribly self-centered!

rockloper

[thumbup]

snow bird

With this virus getting out of control again ,I can't believe how many disrespectful people there are to not wear mask. I don't think it is political, I think it is just stupid and some folks are proving they just don't care about others.

rockloper

I believe a lot of it is political but either way these are people who don't care about others. Let's swap them out for immigrants.

Holmes -- the real one

Oh Snow Bird, have you talked to some of those non-mask wearers?

I was just out at Nolts in Lowville and ran into a few there. The store is not requiring customers to wear masks, but many were wearing them anyway.

Those who were not looked angry.

While my spouse shopped, I asked a few of the non-mask wearers just what they thought.

I got an earful. Politics figured into their thinking to a great extent (so I got an earful of that with accompanying conspiracy theories). There were also those who didn't "believe" in viruses and/or thought God would protect them. Interestingly, they registered no concern about the effect their not wearing a mask might have on others.The general response was, "That's not really my p[problem." One told me, "People need to be right with God. You can die any time."

My conclusion for what it's worth, is a combination of all of the above. But there certainly is a lot of stupidity out there.

Eagle24

What'd you expect from Lewis county...home of Sheriff Carpinelli....our next govenor..LOL....and the 2nd A gang... the ATV rally ....your anecdotal survey pretty much nails it...stupidity.... "Holmes the real one" should move there..

Holmes -- the real one

Eagle24 --

How does this comment make sense?

Holmes

Hmmm, I didn't know the Constitution was suspended along with civil liberties because of a virus. Just NYS using the virus to roll back rights, remember your rights before the 'pandemic'?

Holmes -- the real one

Did you say all that about smoking too?

Don't worry, there are plenty of places you can go without a mask -- wherever people wish to gather to demonstrate that they care nothing for each other.

rockloper

I hate to categorize some people who are less fortunate than I am but one thing I've noticed being out in public is even those who you think wouldn't give two squats about ANYTHING are wearing masks. It's mostly just those 'pesky' republicans who have a need to suck tRUMP's you know what and pretend they know more than those people who have devoted their whole lives to this sort of thing that are the violators. I hope they catch it and suffer right fake holmes? [beam]

Nice_Commenter

You mean when Republicans put border checkpoints between our towns, so you couldn't drive from Potsdam to Winthrop without permission of a federal agent?

too easy.

rockloper

Good for them [thumbup]

Holmes -- the real one

I absolutely agree.

From one of our local Trump supporters:

"I'm not eating in one of those places that require masks. Everyone in there is going to be a Democrat."

rockloper

And the sad truth is they are probably right. When I work the last election I knew the mask violators would be republican and I was right. They're nothing but ignorant, arrogant fools and proud of it.

Holmes -- the real one

[thumbup]

Holmes

Yep, that’s what they are, those pesky‘Republicans’. Like I said, I know it’s difficult being a Democrat living in deep red NNY but get serious...

minder

[thumbup]

Nice_Commenter

The President just held a mask-optional rally. Pence just was at an event where a 100 person choir sung without masks, and then they blamed it on young people.

Sure. Young people. Not the President who refuses to wear a mask, after all his famous quote: "I don't take responsibility for anything" President Donald J Trump, March 2020.

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