A yoga studio in Pacifica that has apparently been holding in-person classes without masks since the spring or summer — and whose owner fills social media pages with pro-Trump and anti-Biden memes — continues to do so despite raging infection rates and surging hospitalizations in San Mateo County and the Bay Area at large.
Tommy Antoon, the owner of Pacifica Beach Yoga, first caught our attention in October. And after being flagged by Yelp reviewers and others for refusing to comply with public health orders — and being further called out in the local news media — enforcement by the county seems have been pretty weak and Pacifica Beach Yoga continues doing its "mask-free, virus-free" yoga classes with impunity.
ABC 7 caught up with Antoon again late last week, and he still insists he "not making" his customers wear masks to yoga classes, and when asked why he's defying the public health orders, he says, "It's my right."
And, classily, in responding to further questioning from a female reporter, he said, "Go away, bitch!" and hung up the phone.
"Just because someone isn't afraid of Covid-19 doesn't mean that he or she doesn't believe in it," the statement reads. "It just means that he or she understands the risk but doesn't prioritize fear over life and freedom."
"We just keep bringing the heat no fear mongers here," said a caption on the post, adding the studio's phone number.
An Instagram post on Sunday thanks ABC 7 and Yelp reviewers for drumming up more business for the studio, because obviously there are enough fearless people who want to do yoga without masks on that the place was packed on Sunday. "We want to apologize to the many we turned away," it says.
As Hoodline reported in October, Antoon has made a habit of advertising his hot yoga classes with the hashtags #fearfree", "#cowardfree," and "#Trump2020." Antoon is one of dozens of people who have filed lawsuits against Governor Gavin Newsom, and his suit, filed back in May, said that the forced shutdown of his yoga studio business caused "signs of mental health deterioration" and made it difficult for him to afford his own medications.
San Mateo court records show that a Thomas Antoon is the subject of a sexual battery trial in a case that has been ongoing since October 2018 — and the next court date appears to be in February.
San Mateo County's COVID Compliance Unit tells ABC 7 that they have issued around 80 written warnings to businesses about public health rules, but it sounds like no serious fines have been issued — and it has not been confirmed what, if any, enforcement measures the county has taken against Pacifica Beach Yoga. The unit says it is "investigating" the business.
A rep for the unit, Heather Forshey, tells the station, "The vast majority of businesses just want to do the right thing."
Image: Tommy A. via Yelp