Gary Kirby is a Florida bar owner who is garnering viral attention after banning face masks from his establishment as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold.
The Melbourne resident, who owns the West Melbourne-based Westside Sports Bar and Lounge, began banning patrons from wearing face coverings on September 11, Florida Today reported.
Kirby expressed that he does “not support” the idea behind face masks and that all of his customers are required to have their temperatures checked upon entering, the outlet continued.
“I do agree that [the coronavirus] is here, and we do need to be safe. We do take precautionary measures, as far as extra cleaning and social distancing. But as far as the face masks, I do not approve of that,” he told Florida Today. “I do not support it. And I won’t have it.”
Fox News added that Kirby claims the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines “hinder our lifestyle as we know it,” as well as impede bartenders’ abilities to determine if someone has been overserved.
The ban was also partly inspired by the fact that the Westside Sports Bar and Lounge was burglarized on August 9 by someone wearing a surgical mask, according to Florida Today.
Kirby told the outlet that he was informed by police that “criminals would be capitalizing on the mask mandate all over using it to their advantage to get away with crimes,” Florida Today continued.
Fox News confirmed that a police report had been filed with the West Melbourne Police Department the following day, but that officials claimed Kirby has been “uncooperative.
Here’s what you need to know about Gary Kirby:
Kirby is a Florida Native
Kirby Hails from Coral Springs, Florida and currently resides in Melbourne, where the Westside Sports Bar & Lounge is located, according to his Facebook page.
His account states that he is the owner of the bar and that he was born on October 28, 1989.
Kirby also previously worked as a “Franchise Owner/Operator at BARMASTERS,” his Facebook cites.
2. Kirby Began Working at Westside Sports Bar & Lounge in March 2019, According to Social Media
Kirby started a “new job” at the Melbourne-based Westside Sports Bar & Lounge on March 4, 2019, his Facebook page claims. A profile photo on the bar’s Facebook page dated March 2019 also indicates that it experienced a change in ownership.
The lounge is “a full liquor & beer bar, with a full menu restaurant! Daily nightly events with live DJs.22 TVS with package, Golden Tee, pool table, and a jukebox,” according to its Facebook account.
Its hours of operation run from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day of the week, the establishment continues.
3. Kirby is a Musician
Kirby also appears to be a musician, according to his Facebook page.
Several pictures dating back to at least 2015 show the bar-owner singing and playing a guitar on-stage, while others show him posing with a guitar.
A May 2015 picture indicates that he played live at Off the Traxx Sports Bar & Grille.
4. Kirby Frequently Posts Anti-Mask Sentiments on Social Media
Kirby’s Facebook page is littered with posts and photos relaying anti-mask sentiments.
Flagged by Facebook as “partly false,” Kirby posted a photo on June 30 of a document claiming that the CDC does not recommend healthy individuals wear face masks.
The caption read: “If the 🐑 can read, show them this.”
He also shared the Florida Today article written about his new face mask policy.
Kirby’s Ban Has Received a Mixed Response on Social Media
As news of Kirby’s ban continues to circulate online, many have taken to social media to share their opinions on the matter.
While some users have criticized the bar owner’s actions, others have flooded his personal and company accounts with supportive messages.
Below are some of the responses:
Thousands of users took to the bar’s Facebook page to comment on the ban.
“I absolutely LOVE this! Thank you for doing it! We need more smart and reasonable business owners like you! Hope more will follow this amazing example. Sharing w my friends to support your business,” a user by the name of Monika Z-ycki wrote.
Sherrie Clement echoed similar sentiments, commenting, “Love love love THIS! I will be driving over from Orlando to support your business! Hope this will inspire more businesses to follow.”
User Jeff Sacchetillo, on the other hand, condemned the move as “idiotic.”
“Congrats for giving yourself a target on the back of your business. You better make sure every tiny detail of your bar is up to standard, because now they will find any excuse to close you down,” the user wrote. “Idiotic business ownership at it’s finest right here.”