The world is still in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the matter of wearing masks has become highly politicized, I've been caught off guard when attending restaurants where some servers and/or kitchen staff haven't been wearing one. 

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This is America, and we still have choices. So, when indoor dining opened back up I chose to patronize a breakfast spot I adore and show my support for small business. I had been dining at this particular establishment's outdoor dining setup since it was put in place. But just as I was ending my first meal back indoors at the restaurant, I noticed that none of the cooks making the food in the kitchen were wearing masks.

I stepped up to the counter to pay and saw about 3 "behind-the-scenes" employees unmasked. Then, one of them left the kitchen and strolled around the restaurant, again with no mask on, and no one reprimanded him. At that point, I made the choice to not go back to eat there. It's awesome that social distancing was in place at this particular restaurant, and that the servers bringing me my food were wearing masks, but the staff actually preparing my meal, the closest to the food, were not. To me, it felt like a game of smoke and mirrors with a business owner just trying to get by doing the minimum.

Then, just over the weekend, I pulled up to a pizza joint in Camden County to pick up some takeout. Before I even got out of my car, a man entering the restaurant gestured to me. It seemed to me he was trying to signal something about my mask, which I was wearing. When I went inside, that same gentleman, an employee, possibly even an owner of the store, said I could take off my mask and that they "don't do that here." As I looked around, there were two employees in the kitchen not wearing masks, a woman taking phone orders not wearing a mask, and the employee making and boxing up my pizza not wearing a mask.

I told the employee I preferred to keep my mask on as I'm immunocompromised, and he said "there's no mask mandate." You have no idea how hard it was for me to keep my mouth shut at that moment. Instead, I paid for my food, politely thanked the staff, and walked out. I won't return.

So, my two questions are: 1) Am I overreacting?, 2) Should I be reporting these restaurants to the state?

Take the polls below and let me know your thoughts. I have chosen not to name the establishments I've written about out of respect for the proprietors.

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