Woman claiming to be from fake ‘Freedom To Breathe Agency’ tells shop worker she could be jailed for ordering her to wear a mask
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This is the moment a woman claiming to be a member of an official anti-mask agency tells a shop worker she could be jailed for ordering customers to wear face coverings.
In a TikTok video which has been widely shared, the woman is seen telling the store worker in Orange County, California, that she is a member of the “Freedom to Breathe Agency” and therefore exempt from wearing a face masks.
There is no such government agency. The US government warned about people claiming to be from the group in June.
During the exchange, the shopper tells store worker Liz Chavez that they were “making sure that people’s constitutional rights, civil and federal laws are not broken.”
She handed Ms Chavez a sheet of paper and added: “You personally need to take this to your manager because you personally can be sued for this, OK?
“You are putting yourself into major legal liability — you personally.”
The piece of paper wrongly told Ms Chavez that she could be sentenced to up to three years in prison or forced to pay a fine for as much as $10,000 (about £7,660), Buzzfeed News reported.
The US Department of Justice has posted an example online of identity cards handed out by the Freedom to Breathe Agency, which claim that the people who have them are exempt from wearing masks.
US Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin said in a June statement: “Do not be fooled by the chicanery and misappropriation of the DOJ eagle.
“These cards do not carry the force of law. The ‘Freedom to Breathe Agency,’ or ‘FTBA,’ is not a government agency.”
The woman eventually left the shop with a friend accompanying her.
People have to wear masks whenever they leave their homes under California state rules to help slow the spread of coronavirus – not just in certain indoor areas like in the UK.
There are similar rules in many other US states. But despite the scientific consensus there has been a steady stream of anti-mask sentiment, with some prominent conservative media figures questioning the science behind the new orders.
Radio host Michael Savage said: “Masks are useless” and called them “a mark of submission” in June.
People wearing faces mask cross the Millennium Bridge in London (Getty Images)
The US Centre for Disease Control said: “Masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control.”
“This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.”