CAMPTON HILLS – Whereas most businesses have posted signs stating masks are required because of the governor’s executive orders regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Luau Coffee, at 40W450 Route 64 in Campton Hills, is bucking the trend.
Hand-written signs posted on the front and back of the business state: “Notice – This is a mask-free environment. Enter at your own risk.”
Keegan O’Rahilly, of St. Charles, had taken his mask down to buy an iced drink while at the coffee shop on Thursday.
“I usually wear a mask," O’Rahilly said.
His companion, who kept her mask on and declined to be named, said she preferred that people wear masks.
Another customer, Anna Murray of Geneva, was not wearing a mask – not only because Luau Coffee has a no-mask policy, but said that the virus has a low transmission rate in Campton Hills.
“I do wear one when I go out, just not here,” Murray said.
An employee at Luau Coffee, who declined to give his name, said customers who came in together would sit together but distance themselves from other customers.
When asked if he felt safe not wearing a mask, he replied, “The feelings and opinions of workers are not necessarily those of the management.”
State guidelines recommend that employees wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when within six feet of others (cloth masks preferred).
Luau Coffee was in another location across the street for 15 years, but moved to its current location three years ago.
The menu includes various lattes, coffee, ice cream, smoothies and breakfast and lunch items. The mask-free policy is that of owner Neal Anderson, who did not return messages seeking comment.
Anderson, a former Campton Township trustee and former township supervisor, received Campton Hills’ first Outstanding Citizen Award in 2018. A lifelong resident of the area, he received the award because he was also an active volunteer with Boy Scouts, the Kane County Fair Chicken Department and volunteered at Garfield and Corron farms, officials said.
Anderson’s mask-free environment coffee shop is in direct contradiction to Gov. Pritkzer’s executive order that requires a face covering in public places or when working.
“Any individual who is over age 2 and able to medically tolerate a face-covering (a mask or cloth face-covering) shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain a six-foot social distance,” the May 1 executive order states. “Face-coverings are required in public indoor spaces such as stores."
Howard Katz, of Batavia, was going to stop at the coffee shop recently, but decided not to because of the sign.
"I figured if that's the way they want to do it, I wasn't about to step foot in there," Katz said. "I was meeting somebody for lunch and we were going to get coffee and we saw the sign."
They then walked next door and got something to eat at Joseph's Pizza Cucina, "where everybody was wearing masks," he said.
Katz said he couldn't understand why the coffee shop would take that stance.
"This is the 21st century and we do have something called medical science," he said. "The virus is not a hoax, the virus isn't something planted as a control mechanism to take over the masses. And masks do not cause you to get sick, they help you from either getting sick or making other people sick."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected.
"Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others," the CDC's website states. "Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings."
The Kane County Chronicle brought the coffee shop's no-mask policy to the attention of the Kane County Health Department. According to an email from Kane County Health Department spokeswoman Susan Stack, the department will be investigating.
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