This was the first weekend Washington’s new rule mandating masks in public went into effect — but one tea shop in Fremont seemed stubbornly defiant. B. Fuller’s Mortal and Pestle posted a sign on its shop Sunday, June 21, that read, “Please Remove Your Mask” with a note below it that dismissed the threat of COVID-19: “It was all a panic, mostly, and we can all admit that we overreacted. We can all take off the masks that we all know don’t do much. And that we are all wearing just because we think everyone else wants us to and because we want to look like we are doing the ‘right thing,’ even though, again, we all know it’s kind of bullshit. We all see the protesters & folks at the beach not doing it, & gathering in groups, so enough already. There, I said it.”
After a photo of the notice went viral this weekend, the eight-year-old shop — which bills itself as an “artisanal modern apothecary,” and gives off heavy steampunk vibes on its website and social media posts — wrote a rambling apology on its Facebook page Saturday.
“The ‘No Mask’ sign in the window was put up as part of a debate about these issues within this business and with our customers — something we have been doing since the onset of Covid 19,” read the note, in part. “I believe in the value of reflection, debate, and inquiry in all matters, especially around such important issues as face our community today.”
B. Fuller’s also claimed it had taken the ‘no mask’ sign down the day after it was first posted and before Gov. Jay Inslee issued the order making mask-wearing in public mandatory last week.
But the Facebook apology was not received well. Many commenters below the Facebook post called out the disingenuous framing of the sign as “part of a debate” at a time when the benefit of wearing masks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is a settled public health consensus, and now state law. Some commenters also pointed to a B. Fuller’s Facebook post from 2016, which showed a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump along with a line that praised Trump as “charismatic, outspoken and full of the greatest ideas.”
Meanwhile, the new statewide face coverings mandate was prompted by a rise in COVID-19 cases in Washington, including King County, where cases shot up 60 percent last week. According to the new rule, people must wear face coverings in public indoors, as well as outdoors if six feet of social distancing can’t be maintained. There are several exceptions to the order: If there’s a medical reason for not wearing a mask, one is not legally required to do so, and children under the age of five are also not required to wear masks.
In its note, B Fuller’s claims it has been in contact with the King County Public Health department about the new guidelines. Over the weekend, the shop appeared to be closed, and messages from Eater Seattle for further comment weren’t returned.