The owner of a Missouri taxi company said his transportation service will not pick up passengers who wear masks or have received the COVID-19 vaccine, despite a surge of new cases in the state.
“We don't allow any type of masks in our vehicles. The second one, we're very against the vaccines, and we do not wish to have people in our vehicle that did the vaccines,” owner Charlie Bullington told KMOV in an interview that was published on Thursday.
According to the taxi service’s website, Yo Transportation operates in Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, Montgomery, St. Charles, St. Louis and Warren counties. KMOV reported that the business has operated for 16 years.
“I understand Missouri is one of the top three states with the lowest vaccination rate, so I am proud of all the Missouri people for standing against this,” Bullington told KMOV in the interview.
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, as of Friday, Missouri actually ranked 39th among states based on percentage of population fully vaccinated. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, about 42 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated.
In a brief interview with The Hill, Bullington said both policies were "safety protocols" and were not discriminatory. He said he took issue with the masks because he couldn't see customers' faces.
He also claimed he knew people who had been adversely affected by the COVID-19 vaccine shots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noted on its website that adverse events after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine are rare, emphasizing that the vaccines are safe and effective.
Customers on Yelp and Google have complained about anti-masking messaging they received from the company, the Riverfront Times reported.
One reviewer who said they were denied a ride said the driver texted them multiple times afterward.
"This man spent 2 hours harassing me via text about his anti mask nonsense. I had to ask him three times to leave me alone," the reviewer said, the Riverfront Times reported.
Missouri is fighting a wave of new COVID-19 cases. The state saw 3,257 new cases on Thursday, compared with hundreds in late May and June.
Updated Aug. 8 at 2:57 p.m.