By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
The owner of Bend’s popular “The Reptile Zone” received a citation for not wearing a mask inside his store earlier this month and he plans to fight the ticket in court.
Jeff Jensen said he has a medical condition and the mask triggers acid reflux which irritates his trachea and causes him to cough, sometimes uncontrollably.
“The first time I was coerced into wearing a mask very early on in the pandemic, in a Fred Meyer’s I think it was, I started coughing so severely I thought I was going to clear the store out,” Jensen said. “I understand coughing is one of the symptoms of COVID. COVID is a dry cough. I cough up stuff. This has been going on for eight years, so I know it’s not COVID.”
Two weeks ago, Jensen received a $750 citation from Bend’s compliance department for not wearing a mask inside his business.
Jensen says everyone who volunteers in The Reptile Zone wears masks and most customers do, as well.
He says he will present a letter provided by his doctor describing his condition.
“When they came in, they did not identify themselves as Bend compliance, agent of the court or whatever it is,” he said. “They just came in, observed me, and left. My whole thing about this is, if they had just stopped to ask or given a warning.”
Since December 1st, the City of Bend has received 46 complaints about people not wearing masks inside businesses.
According to the city’s code enforcement office, 21 businesses are involved in 25 active investigations.
Four have been issued tickets, including The Reptile Zone.
Jensen posted on the store’s Facebook page that he welcomes community support when he delivers his response at the Bend Municipal Courthouse on Thursday.
Because the courthouse is closed, he’ll drop documents into a slot.
“I am going to plead not guilty and seek an appearance before a judge,” he said. “Heaven only knows when that will be.”