MISSION, KS (KCTV) - A Mission, Kansas, business owner says he’ll consider closing his doors if he’s forced to follow the governor’s orders that his customers and workers wear a mask.
Don Chilitos has been on Johnson Drive for nearly 50 years and they are one of the only businesses in Johnson County to flatly refuse to follow the orders.
The owner of Don Chilitos told KCTV5 News he doesn’t believe masks prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He doesn’t believe that many people are actually dying of COVID-19 and he says he has no plans to force the workers who handle food or his customers to wear a mask.
“I feel it’s an encroachment on my civil liberties my freedom I think it’s unconstitutional,” owner of Don Chilitos, Barry Cowden said.
Cowden isn’t holding back.
“I think there comes a time when our liberty is attacked as it is being that there comes a time when a man has to draw the line in the sand," said Cowden.
And for Cowden, that line in the sand is being “forced” to protect the health of his customers by wearing a mask.
Until recently, Cowden says he proudly hung a sign from his door letting customers know masks are not required here.
He admits he had a visit from the DA's office back in June and once he learned there likely wouldn’t be repercussions for not following the rules, he decided to stick to his guns.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe says there’s not a whole lot he can do.
“I’d have to file a big civil suit that I don’t even know what mechanism I would use to file that suit. We’ve explored that option, but it’s a lot of resources for $100 fine," said Howe.
Howe says the county is currently exploring using the codes department and county legal as a way to enforce the mandate giving them the power to even go as far as shuttering any business that doesn’t follow the rules. Until then, he says he’d rather continue educating area businesses about the importance of wearing a mask.
“Goes back to the old signs ...no shirt, no shoes, no service. I mean we’re just adding masks to the equation, that’s all we’re doing and frankly as a lawyer I don’t quite understand how having your employees wear a mask when they serve customers at a restaurant is somehow impugning upon their civil liberties. I don’t get how that correlation happens," said Howe.
KCTV5 News asked Cowden point blank how would he feel if one of the people in his restaurant today died of COVID-19, would he feel any sense of responsibility?
He said he didn't think that would ever happen.
Cowden does spend extra time sanitizing tables, believing COVID-19 spreads much more on surfaces than through anything that comes out of your mouth.
It is important to note, science does not back him up on that claim.