A California woman has been branded a ‘covidiot’ after accusing supermarket staff of discriminating against her for not letting her in the shop without a mask.
Dana Point resident Shelley Lewis became embroiled in a dispute with supermarket staff after she refused to wear a face covering on the grounds of a medical condition.
When the manager of the Gelson’s Market branch in Orange County offered to buy her groceries for her she refused, saying her shopping was ‘private’.
Lewis filmed herself as she spoke to a Gelson’s shop assistant, who tells her in the video that she can’t enter the store without wearing a mask, but the supermarket would ‘happily provide one’ for her.
She demands to speak to the manager, named Ben, who gives her the same answer.
‘I have a medical condition that I’m not allowed to wear a mask,’ she tells him, adding she wasn’t required to tell him what the condition is.
‘Can we shop for you?’ Ben asks her, to which she replies ‘I have private things that I want to get that maybe I don’t want you to see.’
She goes on to accuse the manager of ‘discriminating’ against her after he refuses to let her in the store without a mask, and demands to see the store’s ‘regulations’.
He advises her to call the supermarket’s corporate head office, at which point she threatens him with a lawsuit.
‘Well you guys are going to get a lawsuit because you can’t discriminate,’ she said.
The manager replies: ‘I’m trying to help you but I’m not going to argue with you.’
‘How’s that helping me?’ she claps back.
WATCH: Woman Confronts Grocery Workers Over Face Mask
She then proceeds to address the camera as the store manager walks away to get her a company card, saying: ‘This is Shelley Lewis, I’m at Dana Point Gelson’s, so if anybody wants to shop here you have to have a mask and here is the policies which state that they will shop for me and take my money, my private credit card, and utilize that, I’m just going to let them go do that?
‘No I’m not, I’m not going to let them do that.’
She then addresses the original shop assistant who is wiping down shopping trolleys outside the store while dancing to music, stating that he appears ‘chipper’.
He responds that he is happy to have a job. ‘I’m a bartender and I wouldn’t have a job were it not for Gelson’s,’ he says.
Lewis adds: ‘I’m glad you guys think it’s OK to infringe on people’s rights here.’
The video ends after store manager Ben hands her a business card for her to call the corporate office.
Lewis’s social media profile states that she is a ‘flat earther’ and ‘vegan chef’.
She is listed on the Flat Earth International Conference (USA) 2019 website as a speaker.
In her profile on the site, it says she ‘served in the Army for 5 years where she jumped out of airplanes and became a paratrooper.’
Lewis reportedly uploaded the original video to Facebook, after which it was then re-uploaded to Reddit on May 17 on the r/PublicFreakout subreddit with the title, “Karen gets upset because she’s not allowed to shop without a mask, despite being given other safe options.”
There, it received over 60,000 upvotes and has amassed over 9,500 comments.
The video was also posted to Twitter, where it has amassed over 25,000 retweets and approximately 112,500 likes, by DNC member Khary Penebaker.
Karen gets upset that a store won’t let her shop without a protective facemask. She then tried to pretend like she’s the victim, despite the store giving her options. This is pure arrogance. https://t.co/qgFLhKjgxd #COVIDIDIOTS #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/OXV4EQLOgD
— Khary Penebaker (@kharyp) May 17, 2020
It was widely shared on the platform by large accounts like Yashar Ali, comedian Kathy Griffin, and TikToker Khalil Underwood.
Commenters made fun of Lewis’ reaction to the incident, pointing out that a cashier would both see the “private stuff” she complained about potentially not wanting store employees to see as well as her credit card when she paid for the merchandise.
On Twitter, some praised the store employees while others posted “Karen” memes.
There was plenty of backlash on Facebook as well, with multiple posts made about the incident on “Dana Point Unplugged,” a local, public Facebook group.
Many Republicans, including President Trump and Vice President Pence, have either stated that they will not wear masks in public or have demonstrably refused to do so.
As Politico’s Ryan Lizza and Daniel Lippamn wrote, “On the right, where the mask is often seen as the symbol of a purported overreaction to the coronavirus, mask promotion is a target of ridicule, a sign that in a deeply polarized America almost anything can be politicized and turned into a token of tribal affiliation.”
The CDC began to recommend in early April that people wear masks in public to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, marking a departure from the early days of the outbreak in the United States when masks were not widely recommended.
In early May, the White House required that all West Wing staffers, with the exception of President Trump, wear masks except when at their desks.
Masks or face coverings are currently required in 11 states.