PAXTON, Ill. (WCIA) — A central Illinois woman says a gas station refused to sell her a bottle of wine because she was wearing a face mask. The CDC has recommended people wear masks in public as the coronavirus pandemic continues, but Brianna Coffey says she was refused service because she was wearing one at the Village Pantry. 

Police were called there on Saturday when an employee pressed a panic alarm. “I had my mask on, and when I got there, he was like, ‘I can’t authorize any liquor sales to anyone wearing a mask,’ so I pulled it back and said, ‘Here, you can see,’ and then I put it back on and he said, ‘No, it has to stay off,’ and I said, ‘No, it doesn’t have to stay off,’ and he said, ‘I won’t serve you then.’” explained customer Brianna Coffey. “I said, ‘So you’re not gonna serve me because I have a mask on when we’re being told to wear them for our safety?’ And he says, ‘This is an essential business, and this is a nonessential item,’ and then puts it to the back.”

Public health officials say you can expect to see more people wearing masks because of the CDC’s recommendation, and it doesn’t mean they’re sick.

“The face coverings are going to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by preventing droplets from leaving our bodies and as a reminder not to be touching our face, not to be touching our mouths or our noses when we’re out in public,” said Macon County Public Health Educator Krystle Tempel.

Coffey says she understands the employee’s frustrations for having to work during the pandemic, but she doesn’t feel it was necessary to refuse her service. 

“To me… you should be thankful that there are those of us that are taking that small precaution. I mean, it’s not gonna save our lives or make this huge difference maybe, but it’s something. He should be grateful for that.”

Coffey says police told her the employee had the right to refuse service. She has been banned from the business. We reached out to Village Pantry and were directed to a corporate line. We left a voicemail but have not heard back.