Bakery makes mask changes after Muslim woman is refused service

The woman was wearing a hijab with her nose and mouth covered, but was not served as a result.
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A south Minneapolis bakery has announced its making changes to its face mask policy after a Muslim woman was refused service in a video that was shared to Facebook.

Zahur Abdiaziz posted a video earlier this week that shows her being denied service at Marissa's Bakery on Nicollet Avenue, because she was using her hijab to cover her nose and mouth, as opposed to a cloth face mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

"Someone please tell me how is her face mask different than mine?" Abdiaziz wrote on Facebook, claiming that the decision not to serve her because of her Muslim clothing was an example of racial discrimination.

Her video has been viewed 76,000 times as of noon Thursday, and it has prompted a response from the Latinx-owned bakery, which has issued two statements in response to the video.

"We are horrified to learn one of our customers felt the pain of discrimination," it wrote on Tuesday. "This was never our intent. We love and welcome our beautifully diverse community and have proudly served it for 23 years. We require a face mask to be worn by employees and customers for the safety of us all during the coronavirus pandemic."

The statement prompted further complaints from followers who say the bakery didn't take any responsibility for the situation, or clear up the confusion over whether a hijab with a face covering is permitted in its store.

Another statement was issued on Wednesday in which it says it is making changes so it provides face masks to its customers who don't have one – though again it doesn't clarify if it will accept customers wearing hijabs.

"Marissa's Bakery would like to clarify the racial incident that occurred here does not uphold our values," it said. "We take responsibility for the fact that we have failed to provide face masks to customers, however from here on out we will provide them, in the event a customer does not have their own."

BMTN reached out to Marissa's to clarify its policy with regards to head coverings, and received a response saying: "We are working to provide everyone a better service."

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MDH says a hijab with face covering should be sufficient

The incident comes amid ongoing controversy over face masks, which have not been widely adopted in parts of the U.S. despite calls from public health officials and epidemiologists for them to be worn to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has been recommending the wearing of face masks in indoor settings outside of the home and while in small gatherings outdoors, though has stopped short of making it mandatory, though many businesses are.

But the health department said that head coverings typically worn by Muslim women should be sufficient provided it covers the nose and mouth.

"The bottom line is that if the hijab or burqa is covering the face (nose and mouth) for the duration of the encounter then it should be fine," MDH spokesman Scott Smith said. "For example, many people are wearing balaclavas and pulling them up when in a social encounter."

"We have not put out any specific guidance about what a mask needs to look like. The bottom line is that masks are intended as source control — a catcher’s mitt for ‘spray’ and as long as that is happening we approve."

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