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The boarded-up storefront of Rae’s Cafe in Blue Springs, Missouri, does not look much like a Covid-19 battleground – but it has become a cause célèbre of the anti-masking movement since owner Amanda Wohletz began a campaign in July to defy local Jackson county mask mandates imposed after Delta variant infections surged.

Despite warnings, citations, the revocation of a food permit and a county health department’s order to close her doors, Wohletz persisted, claiming in court that the mandate ordering everyone five and up is required to wear a face covering when visiting indoor public spaces was “unconstitutionally created” and efforts to enforce it were “unlawful, nonsensical”.

Now the restaurant is shuttered. In a 23 September ruling, a county judge rejected Wohletz’s argument of medical exemptions and that the restaurant could skirt the mandate by operating as a private club. The judge also ordered Rae’s to cease operations until it obtained a valid food permit.

Welcome to Missouri’s Covid culture wars.


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