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Yes, businesses can refuse service if a customer refuses to wear a mask; No, exemption cards are not real

A Boise woman says she was wrongfully denied service at a local restaurant because she did not have a mask on, though she claimed to have an exemption medical card.

BOISE, Idaho — A video of a Boise woman refusing to wear a mask in a local restaurant has been circulating social media. 

In the video, the woman records on her cell phone as she is told by customers and restaurant staff that she cannot be in the building without a mask. One employee stated that there are two signs in front of the restaurant that state the business' mask policy.

However, the woman recording the video claimed she had a Medical ADA card. The card allegedly exempts her from the mask mandate in Ada County

The police were called to the restaurant. Upon arrival, officers told the woman and her friend that the business has a right to refuse her service for not wearing a mask inside.

Content warning: Profane language is used.

It is true that businesses can refuse service to a customer if they refuse to wear a mask, but claims continue to be made that some people possess medical cards that exempt them from wearing a mask due to a medical condition.

These medical cards do not exist.

On June 30, the United States Department of Justice issued a statement that medical exemption cards were not issued by the Department.

"The ADA does not provide a blanket exemption to people with disabilities from complying with legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operations," the statement read.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not have any rules that address the required use of face masks by state and local governments or private business owners, only that reasonable modifications be offered, like curbside pickup.

These accommodations, however, cannot put a business out of line with public health requirements, such as the city-wide mask mandate.

Last month, KTVB spoke with Dr. David Pate, former CEO of St. Luke's Health and a current member of Gov. Brad Little's coronavirus task force. Pate said masks are very effective in slowing the spread of coronavirus and said they can be incredibly beneficial to those with preexisting health conditions.

“[Masks will not] restrict your ability to breathe, your oxygen, and it’s not going to cause any kind of toxic chemical to accumulate like I’ve heard rumors about carbon monoxide or other things. All of that is not true,” Pate said. "I can’t think of a time where I told a patient 'you shouldn’t wear a mask because of a medical condition.' I just can’t even imagine."

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