“The government should not be doing what it’s doing,” Ramsay Devereux, who owns Ramsay One Construction in Ventura County, told the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s absurd what’s going on,” he added. “No one has isolated a virus. No one has proved it. You can’t catch a virus. It’s not even possible. It’s the pharmaceutical industry trying to make a lot of money and make vaccines that are poisonous.”
Four signs outside of his store read: “We’re OPEN – to the truth,” “No masks allowed,” “handshakes OK,” “Hugs very OK.”
COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease that mainly spreads through respiratory droplets in the air. Wearing masks can help slow the spread of the virus to others, experts say, because it keeps droplets sent into the air through breathing, sneezing or coughing inside the mask.
Devereaux is seemingly in violation of Ventura County’s current social distancing order for businesses, requiring establishments to “enforce COVID-19 prevention plans” and give written notice for how it will comply with social distancing requirements.
He told The Times, “there was not one bit of criticism,” when he first put up the signs. People even came into the store for hugs, he said.
“And then everything broke loose,” he added.
Last weekend, TMZ posted a story on Devereaux’s signs and a separate tweet of a Facebook picture of Devereaux’s signs with the comment “Actual store in my town,” went viral.
David Parsons, an American history professor who posted the tweet, told The Times, “Reading the thread of all these reactions, it’s clear that Americans are all living in their own media-saturated reality.”
“All these rabbit hole investigations people have done. It’s scary to me because managing democracy is always messy, but it’s harder when you have a population that does not even accept the premise of what’s going on,” he added.
Devereaux said he’s gotten angry emails and phone calls and Yelp even had to shut down reviews on his business’s page because of angry criticisms unrelated to flooring. One person called him a “COVID-19 denier!” according to The Times.
Devereaux said one person threatened to burn down his store.
“It’s shaken me up,” he admitted.