A Sydney restaurateur has doubled down after his criticism of the mask mandate sparked a severe backlash, saying mental health was behind his decision to speak out.
But Love Crepe owner Nick Kondilis has apologised for implicating his staff in a social media post that claimed the mandate is a “crime against humanity”.
“Love Crepe believes that being forced to wear a mask is a crime against humanity,” the post on the restaurant’s Instagram account read on Tuesday.
The Drummoyne venue is closed on Thursday and Kondilis indicated he would not reopen until the backlash subsided.
He again took to social media to apologise for posting a picture of his staff with the anti-mask comment.
“I just want to apologise to anyone who got offended. There was never any intent to offend anyone,” he said.
“I want to apologise to my staff. They’ve got nothing to do with this at all.
“I shouldn’t have used that photo. I apologise to my staff for putting them in that position.”
The restaurant has since been flooded with one-star reviews and angry comments.
There have also been calls to boycott it.
Kondilis has admitted the post “wasn’t worded correctly”.
But he said concerns for the hospitality industry prompted him to make the anti-mask comment.
“The reason why we did all this – it comes down to mental state … mental health,” he said.
“I’ve a lot of friends in the industry who had a very tough year last year, during COVID.
“And things haven’t started better this year.
“Now they’re being forced to wear a mask. They are struggling, really struggling.”
Face masks are mandatory for all staff in hospitality venues.
But Kondilis has alluded to confusion over the policy, claiming he was told by the New South Wales government his had been deemed an “outdoor venue” and was therefore exempt from the mandate.
“We need to know what are the rules,” he said.
“If we need to wear a mask, we’ll wear a mask.”