A Michigan woman claims a teller at a local bank called the police on her after she refused to remove a surgical mask that she says she’s wearing to protect herself from the novel coronavirus and other illnesses.
Amanda Ulmen told Fox 2 that she went to a Key Bank location in Dearborn last week while wearing a black mask that features a set of sharp teeth on the front. One of the tellers asked her to remove the mask, but Ulmen refused — allegedly prompting the teller to contact the police.
“She jumps on the phone after she pushes this button — which I assume is the panic button — and I hear this giant locking sound,” she told the outlet, adding she chose this mask because it can be washed and reused, unlike traditional surgical masks.
Ulmen — who said she and her family are wearing the masks as extra protection after hearing about cases of the novel virus in the U.S., which has reported 13 cases to-date — was reportedly locked in the bank and was forced to wait for the police to arrive.
“Nothing about the design, absolutely nothing about freaking them out and anything,” she added. “They kept saying that it was for their protection. And I don’t understand what my mask has to do with their protection.”
Police later arrived at the scene but she was able to leave the bank shortly after. Following the incident, Ulmen told Fox 2 that she plans to close her account of five years.
“I do get sick every year. When I heard about the coronavirus it scared me. All I want to do is protect myself with the mask and I’m a criminal. I was scared and traumatized,” she said. “Key Bank cannot get away with treating customers this way; you can’t lock your customers in a bank.”
In a statement to the news station, a spokesperson for Key Bank said its “bank policy to request brief removal of anything blocking the face for the safety of our employees and clients.”
“We regret any inconvenience caused” the statement added.
An infectious disease doctor previously told Fox News that there isn’t a lot of evidence that face masks really prevent acquiring or spreading disease. Surgical masks, which cover the nose and mouth, are often made from a flimsy material and aren’t fitted to the face. Spaces and gaps can form around the cheeks and edges of the mouth, making it easy for air to move in and out.