Los Angeles (CNN)At first, the attacks directed at Hugo's Tacos were mainly childish comments made by people who appeared frustrated that they were asked to wear a mask while at the restaurant.
'Exhausted' by conflicts over guests refusing to wear masks, a popular taco spot in Los Angeles temporarily closed its doors
But about a month ago, the comments escalated into screams.
Customers at the popular Los Angeles spot threw drinks and other objects at cashiers, Hugo's Tacos CEO told CNN. They called Hugo's Taco Stand's mask rule "stupid" and yelled at the primarily Latino staff to "Go back to where you came from."
One of the owners tracked the number of attacks last Thursday, and realized it was an hourly onslaught. On Sunday, following this realization, Hugo's Tacos announced it is temporarily closing down its two locations in Los Angeles.
"Our taco stands are exhausted by the constant conflicts over guests refusing to wear masks," Hugo's Tacos wrote in an Instagram post. "A mask isn't symbolic of anything other than our desire to keep our staff healthy. Both of our locations are going to take a break and recharge."
The move was unprecedented for the institution, which has operated for 15 years.
But the decision comes as Covid-19 cases continue to increase across the United States, with more than 2.5 million cases of coronavirus nationwide and at least 125,928 deaths as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Amid the pandemic, the act of wearing a mask to protect others has become a political and cultural flashpoint.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone "should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public" to reduce transmission and slow the spread of the coronavirus, which is highly contagious. But some argue that the act of wearing a mask is political, and that wearing one infringes on their civil liberties.
Hugo's Tacos CEO Bill Kohne called the attacks on his employees "schoolyard defiance" and one that is "agnostic of party," noting that his two stands are located in the neighborhoods of Atwater Village and Studio City, two liberal communities within Los Angeles.
"It's a mistake to think of this problem as defined by red or blue," Kohne told CNN. "We're shades of grey. It's general defiance, a 'you can't tell me what to do' and 'this is my personal choice.'"
Customer defiance over mask rules have become commonplace, with many posting videos of so-called "Karens" on social media reacting angrily toward mask wearers.