OMAHA, Neb. — The pandemic has caused shut-downs, stress and financial strains for local restaurants. On top of all that, restaurants are also getting harassed for enforcing masks inside their private businesses.
Block 16 in downtown Omaha has been take-out only for months and enforce masks inside the restaurant.
The co-owner, Paul Urban, says the pushback of the mask requirement has reached new heights.
“There was someone that...it was brought up they had COVID and our staff obviously didn’t want them in here," he said. "They still offered to bring [the food] out to their car and put it on the hood on their car and they weren’t okay with that. Ended up saying some pretty nasty things to them.
Urban says it's affecting morale in an already stressful time.
"Just because you took out your one frustration on one person that day, there's ten other people that are doing it to that same person and it's pretty unfair," he said.
Ming's Restaurant in Papillion is having similar experiences - customers refusing to wear a mask when they pick up food.
But any additional stress for them is already overwhelming due to the devastating loss of their former owner, Ming Wang.
"They went on a cruise down in Australia in March. He ended up getting exposed to COVID down there, got back home and got sick, went to the hospital end of March. He was on a ventilator for 74 days," Wang's son Ping Wang said.
Ming Wang passed away at 71-year-old due to COVID-19 complications. His son took over the restaurant and has been trying to keep up his father's legacy.
"They're huge shoes and I'm trying to fill them. I told my wife and mom listen, if I could just get one big toe into his shoe then we're well on our way," Wang said.
Wang requires masks in the restaurant as a safety precaution. And even after the tragic events that unfolded, some uncooperative customers continue to berate the staff.
"It's not my employees fault, it's not their policy, it's mine. So don't take it out on them," Wang said.
The restaurant owners ask for the public to understand the safety aspect of mask wearing inside a restaurant and for a little respect. They're willing to put safety before profits.
"Some tears have been dropped and shed, but dad always said the happiness and safety and health of everybody, including employees and customers, outweighs the mighty dollar," Wang said.