‘It’s Supposed To Be A Free Country’: Restaurant Refuses To Follow State Mask Mandate

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Melanie Wilcox Contributor
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Don Chilito’s is one of 18 restaurants in Johnson County that has received noncompliance complaints for not following Kansas’ mandatory mask policy, according to The Hill.

This chef is not affiliated with the Don Chilito’s or any of the restaurants in this story. By Syda Productions. Shutterstock.

“It’s supposed to be a free country, and we can make our own decisions with what we do in our lives and in our businesses,” said Don Chilito’s owner Barry Cowden, the Hill reported Thursday.

District Attorney Steve Howe visited all 18 businesses, and the only restaurant to openly defy his orders was Don Chilito’s, according to KSHB.

When the district attorney’s office sent an investigator in June after receiving several complaints, Cowden said he felt like his civil liberties and rights were being violated, the local outlet reported.

“If I do wear a mask I will of course wear it in protest, and I’ll only do it where need be to protect my livelihood and that of my employees,” Cowden said, according to KSBH.  (RELATED: Wendy’s Bids To Buy Approximately 400 Of Its Restaurant Locations To Combat Bankruptcy)

Cowden does not know what the potential consequences could be for violating the mandate, and without a legal precedent to use as a guide, Howe does not know either, KSBH reported.

Cowden will attend a Board of County Commissioners meeting on Thursday to learn about the potential enforcement consequences, according to KSBH.