County plays hardball over mask policy

Viva Coffee House

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pima County Health Department has proven it is very serious about the mask policy it passed last May at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

It shut down the Viva Coffee House for three days for what it called a refusal to comply. It threatened a $10,000 fine for each violation. It repeatedly sent inspectors to check out the level of compliance.

After two months of efforts, Viva Coffee House has complied.

“Just yesterday we received notice of compliance, having passed the inspection," said Kelly Walker, one of the co-owners of the coffee shop.

Walker denies he was ever against the mask policy per se, but that he was only seeking clarification of the rules.

“These changing regulations, shifting, different agencies with different standards was very confusing for us,” he said. “Especially at a time when we’re just trying to stay open.”

The county takes exception with that- publishing a list of complaints from customers, as well as literature posted by the establishment which calls mask wearing “nonsense” and a form of “tyranny”.

It has also published the name of the business as one which has failed to comply on its so called Wall of Shame.

Viva is the only restaurant business in Pima County “who’s permit has been suspended due to repeated non-compliance,” said Loni Anderson, the division manager for Consumer Health and Food Safety.

But Walker now says he has a better grasp of the rules and will make every effort to comply.

“I guess, you know, the positive note, we understand now what they want and we’re in compliance,” he said. “So that’s a win for everybody.”

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