"This has been a real challenging two years – over two years. And the fact that we are going back to a mask mandate, at this point, doesn’t feel good at all," the Philadelphia restaurant owner told FOX Business’ Jeff Flock during a live interview on "Varney & Co." on Wednesday.
He went on to note that he is "not a COVID denier" and is "pro-vaccine" as well as "pro-science," but argued that "at this point with the hospitalization rates as low as they are, the lowest point in all of two years of the pandemic, it makes no sense that we’re putting masks on in a restaurant of all places."
Mink made the arguments two days after Philadelphia health officials announced that they are reimposing the indoor mask mandate in response to an increase in cases driven by the omicron BA.2 subvariant.
"Recently we've been watching COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise in several European countries and some places in the U.S., and now were starting to see cases here in Philadelphia rise," Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said at a press briefing on Monday afternoon. "We're reintroducing the mask mandate in Philadelphia."
Philadelphia appears to be the first major city to reimpose an indoor mask mandate after local governments and states across the country lifted them earlier this year in response to plummeting cases.
The new mandate goes against recommendations by the CDC, which says that people in counties with low community transmission should choose whether or not to wear a mask based off their "personal preference." Philadelphia County's community risk level is still low, according to the CDC. Sam Mink
The city entered tier 2 of its COVID-19 response system, which means Philadelphia has hit two of three requirements between 100 and 225 new cases per day, a 50% increase in cases over the previous 10 days, and hospitalization between 50-100.
If new cases hit between 225 and 500 per day, then the city will reimpose the requirement that residents show a vaccine card or negative COVID-19 test before entering bars and restaurants.
Mink stressed that enforcing the reimposed mask mandate in his establishment will prove "challenging."
He then said that after dealing with the pandemic and its associated restrictions for more than two years, the restaurant is not prepared to turn away customers.
"We’ll ask people to put on a mask. If they don’t have a mask, we will give them a mask, but we’re not going to turn away business," Mink told Flock.
The new mask mandate will go into effect on Monday.
Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report.