San Jose business owner enforces face-covering ordinance on non-compliant customers

A San Jose business owner said a group of customers walked into his café on Sunday afternoon and refused to follow the state’s mask mandate and social distancing guidelines.

Owner Brian Hom said the customers only left after he gave them a refund. An employee captured video of the confrontation between Hom and the customers on her cell phone.

Hom, who asked we not identify his health food establishment, said a group of five friends, not regulars all came in not wearing face masks.

They claimed they had medical exemptions, showing him a piece of paper. The owner questioned if it was legit.

“I felt more harassed than anything,” said Hom. “I wasn't scared. I just wanted to protect my customers as well as my staff.”

In addition, per county rules, he has a limit of three people at a time in the store. The customer continued to debate the owner. The employee who videotaped the argument stepped in. He argued with her too and called her ignorant.

“Him calling me ignorant is really him being ignorant about everything that’s going on,” said San Jose Employee Leslie Magbitang.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese commends the owner's restraint and acknowledged his office receives complaints from residents who are unwilling to comply with the order.

“To say any county or any health officer for a county is truly terrorizing anybody is a very poor choice of words,” said Cortese. “If there’s any terrorist out there, it’s COVID-19.”

Hom called the group organized and questioned their motive. He is worried another small business may encounter them.

“We can’t be safe if we have people out there not believing coronavirus is real, not wearing masks and not worried about spreading the virus,” said Hom.

Cortese admits it’s not fair for business owners to enforce the order. He also said nothing about the virus is fair.

Cortese said owners can call hotlines set up by the county and turn video in anonymously to the district attorney’s office. Patrons can be cited with a misdemeanor.