A Dairy Queen customer on Long Island was flipped off by the manager after he asked them why employees weren't wearing masks. The caught-on-camera incident is one of many across the country that shows the tension among Americans when it comes to COVID-19 and face covering.
Brandon Trotta was at the Dairy Queen drive-thru on Route 112 in Medford over the weekend. He tells NBC New York that he asked Dairy Queen for a refund after he saw an employee who wasn't wearing a mask preparing ice cream for his family. When he asked to see a supervisor, the woman who came up to the window to speak to him wasn't wearing a mask either.
"I told the cashier I'm not gonna take those. I asked if he could remake them with a mask. He brought over the manager on duty who told me she doesn't need face mask because she's not dealing with the public," Trotta said.
Then an expletive-filled argument followed, captured by Trotta on his cellphone. The manager can be seen giving Trotta two middle fingers as he said, "you're gonna be on Facebook, I hope you like it."
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The video soon went viral and the franchise owners launched in an investigation that led to the suspension of the maskless manager.
But that wasn't enough for Trotta, who believes the woman should have been fired. "I'm more upset that the owner hasn't taken any responsibility yet since it's a franchise," he said.
Trotta returned to the Dairy Queen on Tuesday and held up a sign to warn other customers to "eat at your own risk." Some people in the drive-thru promptly got out of the line after seeing Trotta and his message.
"People are not wearing masks and it's very unsafe. It was only a few months ago that we had 750 people die in a day in New York state so they all need to have masks on," Trotta explained.
As of Tuesday night, nearly 25,000 people have died from the coronavirus, according to state health officials. Daily death tolls have fallen to the single digits or low double digits, compared to the triple digits in three months ago, and officials have credited social distancing and face covering in helping slow down the virus spread.
While covering your face doesn't necessarily protect you from getting the coronavirus, the CDC has said that face masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading it to others.
Police ended up being called on Trotta on Tuesday night and he was asked to leave private property because he was obstructing business operation. Trotta was then able to speak with the owner of that Dairy Queen franchise and received an apology. He said the owner told him that everyone will be wearing masks from now on and Trotta said he no longer wants the employee to be fired.
In a statement, the franchise owners said masks are currently required of all employees at that location and the manager has been demoted.
"We recognize that we underestimated the toll operating in a COVID-19 environment is having on our team and our fan experience. We previously reduced shifts to five hours and raised our hourly rate by $4, and we now realize we need to do more," the statement read.
The franchise owners continued to say that it will now commit to providing stress management, self-care training, counseling services and emotional fitness coaching for employees.