Benton restaurant closes dine-in after folks refuse to wear masks

Around Arkansas

BENTON, AR. (KARK) — It’s been two weeks since Governor Asa Hutchinson allowed restaurants to offer dine-in but there are several new safety measures that have to be taken.

La Hacienda in Benton decided to close their dine area after facing some challenges with customers.

“So when we noticed that some people weren’t wearing masks and some weren’t we thought it would be better to close our doors,” La Hacienda Spokesperson Aeriana Oseguera said.

Oseguera said they opened their doors Sunday just to get a feel for things, and to see how it would go with the new directives and a small crowd. On Tuesday they posted this message below on Facebook and decided to close the inside of their restaurants.

“We had an incident where people were walking in and eating without masks,” Oseguera said.

Oseguera said the Benton location made the decision, not because of one person in particular but because there are still things that they’re working on. They don’t want to offend anyone.

“Someone was offended because someone did not have on a mask but of course guidelines are being followed as far as 6ft apart, no one can be together/or no more crowds than 10 people,” Oseguera said.

They offered free masks and hand sanitizer at the door but some customers didn’t want to wear them.

Although the State Department of Health said people should wear a face covering before entering a restaurant and while inside until food and drinks are served in their new directives, Oseguera said they can’t force someone to wear a mask.

“Everyone’s trying to do their best, everyone’s trying to be compliant and we just thought it would be better if we waited a little bit longer,” Oseguera said.

So the Benton location is now doing curbside, drive-thru, and delivery only. Oseguera said they are doing their best.

“There’s a lot of rules and guidelines you have to follow and it’s not easy, it’s not easy to do these new things were being asked to do,” Oseguera said. “We weren’t trying to offend anyone.”

Oseguera said this isn’t the end all be all for them. They’re goal date to re-open the inside is June 1st.

She said they ordered more masks to have for people who don’t have one and they also ordered some thermometers.

The Little Rock location on Cantrell said their dining is closed currently and will open next month too. The Hot Springs location said their dine-in is open.

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