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Pacifica yoga studio owner touts '#NoMasks' as Yelp fury grows

A presumably pre-pandemic photo featured on the Pacifica Beach Yoga website.
By Jay Barmann - Published on October 12, 2020.

A Pacifica yoga studio owner who has been angry about public health orders that forced his business to close since at least May, is now advertising mask-free indoor yoga classes on social media with hashtags like "#fearfree", "#cowardfree," and "#Trump2020."

It's of course a lonely thing being a Republican or a Trump supporter in the Bay Area, but Pacifica Beach Yoga owner Tommy Antoon is not making any secret about his political passions on his studio's social media accounts. And, like a tragically large number of Trump supporters — in spite of the president's recent bout of COVID-19 that very likely came as a result of not wearing a mask and coming in close contact with an infected person — Antoon's politics have infected his ideas about the science behind COVID-19 precautions. After a frequent pre-pandemic customer of the studio posted a Yelp review last week alerting others to the fact that mask-wearing rules were being flouted at Pacifica Beach Yoga, Antoon appears to have responded confirming his stance and alleging that the studio remained open despite shelter-at-home orders in the spring.

Below is a screenshot of the exchange.

Screenshot via Yelp

As of Sunday night, a post advertising Monday classes at Pacifica Beach Yoga included the above-mentioned hashtags — further suggesting that the studio is not following public health guidelines. A representative of the studio could not be reached to confirm whether some or all of the classes offered are mask-free.

Screenshot via Facebook

The Instagram account of Pacifica Beach Yoga has been rife with pro-Trump memes and posts, scattered among posts about class times. And Antoon has been offering free classes to anyone who arrives wearing a Trump 2020 hat or t-shirt, like the customer shown below on September 20.

View this post on Instagram

Today’s Free class Winner!

A post shared by Pacifica Beach Yoga (@pacifica_beach_yoga) on

On September 18, the account reposted a Washington Examiner story claiming the CDC had retracted its own guidance about wearing face masks. And scrolling back one can see months of anti-Biden and anti-mask posts of various kinds — which, let's just say, make for kind of a bizarre picture of a yoga business, especially in the Bay Area.

Screenshot via Facebook

The complaint on Yelp, to which Antoon appears to have responded to directly and defiantly, came on October 7. As of Monday, October 12, a screenshot of that exchange appeared on Reddit and immediately garnered over 100 comments — and that directly led to a stream of 1-star Yelp reviews denouncing the business.

A website called The Center Square, owned by the one-year-old conservative-leaning news organization The Franklin Foundation, reported last week that among 30 lawsuits filed against Governor Gavin Newsom over pandemic-related business shutdowns is a lawsuit filed by Antoon back on May 27. In the suit, Antoon is said to have alleged that the shutdown of his business "caused him not to be able to buy medication and has caused 'signs of mental health deterioration.'"

In his bio on the Pacifica Beach Yoga website, Antoon is described as having taken his first Bikram yoga class in late 2011 after suffering a heart attack and having numerous health problems. This led him ultimately to become a yoga instructor. His studio offers both hot Vinyasa and Bikram classes, in addition to traditional yoga and heated pilates.

The offices of the San Mateo County Health Department were closed Monday due to the Columbus Day holiday, so Hoodline could not confirm if any complaints had been filed in official channels about the studio. As of now, San Mateo County is allowing gyms and fitness studios to open at 10-percent capacity with masks worn at all times. 

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