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Silver Spring restaurant owners workers were harassed over mask mandate

Masks are still required indoors in Montgomery County until at least 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 21.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — A Montgomery County small business owner said they are now the target of harassment over the county's mask mandate after recorded video shows unruly customers taunting employees over its mask requirements.

On Sunday Holy Chow! owner Ami Schreiber said unruly customers taunted his employees over Mongomery County's indoor mask mandate.

The interaction inside the Silver Spring Kosher Chinese restaurant has since been posted on Facebook, Twitter, and featured on the Reddit page "public freakout".

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“It’s not a law, it’s not a law, segregation was legal, Jim Crow law was legal, the holocaust was legal," one of the people in the video can be heard saying to an employee behind the counter about the mask mandate.

"It was bizarre, I think extremely awkward, but as she started to raise her voice and the comparisons to Nazi Germany at that point it started getting a little bit scary," Schreiber said.

Schreiber said some neighboring business owners told him they also went into their establishments, and he believes they were looking to pick a fight. He also thinks they were visiting from out of town.

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"Their intention probably wasn't to buy food anyway it was just to make a scene and they saw people in the store that there was enough of a crowd and they decided this was the right time and the right place to do it," the business owner said.

He said the people who took the video threatened it would go viral. Once it made it onto social media platforms Schreiber said it wasn't long before his Silver Spring restaurant became a target.

"We started getting obscene phone calls of people cursing at us and hanging up. They started posting one-star reviews to Google and Yelp to try and bring us down," Schreiber said. "We got one Facebook message so far where someone threatened us that said wait till I come there, and you’ll see what problems you have or something to that effect.”

Credit: WUSA
Several customers at Holy Chow! said Wednesday evening they made it a point to support the local business after seeing video of Sunday's encounter.

Despite the hate received from the unwelcome incident, Schreiber said he is proud of how his employees handled the confrontation and said he is grateful for the community's response to the widely shared video.

“The silver lining here was my employees stepped up and people noticed. That to me is most important. We’ve had people call up and order $14 worth of food and then offered a $36 tip to give to the employees," the business owner said.

He said Sunday's incident wasn't the first time customers have gotten confrontational over the mask mandate. He said on Sunday a father and son also came in and cursed at his employees over its enforcement of the county's rule.

Moving forward he said he is considering getting conflict resolution training for his employees and hiring a security guard for peak business hours. Schreiber said nobody wants to work in an abusive work environment and he doesn't want his employees to feel like they have to be subject to abuse at work.

“These people just trying to their best and they’re earning a living,” Schreiber said. “I definitely think this isn’t going to be the last of it."

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