(DAILY MAIL) — A Michigan woman has slammed her local bank after a teller called the police when she wouldn’t remove a surgical mask which she says she was wearing to protect against deadly coronavirus.
Amanda Ulmen, from Dearborn, Michigan, entered a Key Bank on Monday wearing a black face mask decorated with an image of sharp white teeth.
She says she has a medical condition that leaves her with a weakened immune system, and was taking precautions against the virus by wearing the mask.
She claims to have been a client of the bank for five years and that she is known to employees so did not understand why they would ask her to remove the protective mask before serving her, despite the bank responding that it was due to a protection policy.
Ulmen claims that she often wears a surgical mask because of her concerns about colds and flu that have been heightened this year because of the spread and rising deaths associated with the coronavirus.
‘I do (get sick) every year. I do catch – if it’s influenza A, B, strep throat – when I heard everything about the coronavirus it scared me,’ she said.
The Michigan women is now upset because she feels her trip to a local bank should not have resulted in her speaking to police, claiming that it was all because she refused to remove her mask when asked to do so by a teller.
‘All I want to do is protect myself with the mask and I’m a criminal,’ she told Fox 2.
‘I was scared and traumatized.
‘She jumps on the phone after she pushes this button – which I assume is the panic button – and I hear this giant locking sound.’
After the teller pressed the button, Ulmen was locked inside the bank and forced to wait until the police arrived.
Ulmen’s boyfriend recorded the whole incident on his phone.
In the video, she can be seen standing calmly in the middle of the locked bank and then being taken outside to speak to the police officers by their car before being allowed to leave.
Ulmen told Fox 2 that she used to wear more traditional surgical masks but switched to the new black brand decorated with sharp white teeth because they are more eco-friendly and can be rewashed and reused.
She also claims that nobody in the bank mentioned anything about the design or feeling scared or intimidated by the mask but kept repeating that it was about their protection.
‘Nothing about the design, absolutely nothing about freaking them out and anything,’ she said.
‘They kept saying that it was from their protection. And I don’t understand what my mask has to do with their protection.’
This was the second time in a month, however, that a teller had refused to serve Ulmen because of a surgical mask covering the face of herself or a person with her, meaning she was previously aware that this was the bank policy.
Last month, she was involved in a similar incident when a teller asked her to remove the mask her ten-year-old son was wearing before she would be served.
Ulmen said that her son was sick so she brought him back out to the car before returning to the bank.
Key Bank responded to the incident with a statement reiterating that the request to remove the mask was due to a bank policy.
‘We regret any inconvenience caused, but it is bank policy to request brief removal of anything blocking the face for the safety of our employees and clients,’ it said.
Ulmen has said that following her conversation with the police, however, the bank’s statement does not suffice and she will now be closing her account with them.
‘Key Bank cannot get away with treating customers this way; you can’t lock your customers in a bank,’ she said.
While Chinese authorities have encouraged people to wear surgical masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, medical experts claim that there is little evidence to prove their effectiveness in the real world.
‘Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings, such as hospital,’ Dr Jake Dunning, of Public Health England (PHE), told The Sun.
‘However, there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings.’