California cafe charges customers wearing masks $5

A California cafe owner is charging customers who wear face masks $5 to dine at his establishment.

Chris Castleman, 34, who owns Fiddleheads Cafe in Mendocino, Calif., put up a sign on Sunday notifying customers of the additional fee, according to NBC News.

"I don't think $5 to charity is too much to ask from mask wearing customers who claim to care so much about the community they live in," Castleman told the news outlet.


Castleman said that he will donate extra earnings from mask wearers to a charity of his choice. Currently, proceeds are going to Project Sanctuary, a local domestic abuse organization, but in two weeks, a new charity will be selected to enter the rotation, NBC News reported.

"It's about time that the proponents of these ineffective government measures start paying for the collateral damage they have collectively caused," the cafe owner said.

News of the dining fines comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidance on masks earlier this month, stating that those who are vaccinated do not need to wear face coverings in most settings. 

At the start of the pandemic, California was one of the first states to institute a shelter-in-place order, shuttering most small businesses in the state. Some of the first cases of COVID-19 were found on the West Coast beginning in late February and early March 2020.  

Castleman told NBC News that he was forced to close his cafe temporarily in June after the local government warned that mask wearing was not optional during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The government shut everything down," he said. "Everyone wearing a mask is complicit."


During that time, Castleman said that he did follow state orders and provided only curbside service to his customers, though he argued that it was too much to require masks for servers and other workers, NBC News reported.

"I don't believe in mask wearing," Castleman said. "Our customer base has been strongly aligned with our beliefs, but I think some are really angry at our cafe."

"It's their choice," he continued. "They can choose what business they support. They can go to any other business in my county, state."

In March, Castleman reportedly introduced a 50 percent discount for customers who throw their masks in the trash.