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Customer arrested after mask dispute at Georgia Five Guys

By Henri Hollis, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

In an unrelated incident, authorities said a Gwinnett man pulled his mask down and coughed on people at an Oconee store

A customer was arrested and banned from a Five Guys for two years after an argument over masks, authorities said.

The 37-year-old Winder man, whose name was not released, was not arrested in connection with the Sept. 20 argument at the burger joint’s location on Epps Ridge Parkway, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office told the Athens Banner-Herald. Instead, he was charged with obstruction after the agency said he refused to cooperate with a deputy who was investigating the mask dispute.

According to the sheriff’s office, the argument started after the man entered the restaurant without a mask and heard a woman tell her children he wasn’t showing good conduct during a pandemic.

It is not clear who called authorities, but the deputy went to the restaurant around 1:15 p.m. The man would not comply when the deputy asked for his personal information in order to complete a report, prompting his arrest, officials told the newspaper.

In an unrelated incident the previous day, Oconee authorities said a 57-year-old Gwinnett man pulled his mask down and coughed on three people at Striplings, a restaurant and general store on Monroe Highway. The episode, which involved a young couple and an employee, was captured on the store’s security camera.

According to the sheriff’s office, the man coughed in the employee’s face and said: “I have it. Now you do, too.”

The man has not been arrested, but could face reckless conduct charges, the sheriff said. Authorities have not released his name, photo or description.

This is not the first time someone in Georgia has been accused of intentionally coughing on others since the start of the pandemic.

In April, Atlanta police said a woman did just that as a family of six, including four children, exercised outdoors at Atlantic Station.

Investigators believe the stunt may have been “some kind of social media challenge” because the woman, who was on her phone at the time, reportedly said “corona” and laughed before walking away.

The woman was never caught even though her photo was circulated after the April 5 incident.

“This case has been categorized inactive,” Atlanta spokesman Officer Anthony Grant.