A Michigan woman who claims she has a medical condition that leaves her with a weakened immune system has voiced her anger that police were called after she refused to remove her surgical mask in a local bank.
The woman claims the teller immediately called the police after she would not take off the nontraditional mask she wears to protect against the coronavirus.
Amanda Ulmen, from Dearborn, Michigan, entered a Key Bank on Monday wearing a black face mask decorated withan image of sharp white teeth.
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.
Amanda Ulmen claims she wears the black mask decorated with a smile of sharp white teeth to protect against the coronavirus because she has a weakened immune system
In a video taken by her boyfriend, Ulmen is seen waiting calmly for police to arrive after a teller pressed the panic button when she refused to remove the mask and the bank is locked down
Video also shows Ulmen speaking with the police who were called after she refused to uncover her face. She claims she is traumatized by the incident and police should not have been called
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.
The mask worn by Ulmen is not believed to have much benefit against the coronavirus, according to medical experts who claim they are only really useful in a clinical setting
Police are shown in the video arriving to Key Bank, who claim the teller called the police as part of a protection policy for employees that requires customers to remove their masks
Ulmen’s boyfriend is believed to have recorded the whole incident on his phone and in the video, she can be seen standing calming 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.’
Dearborn Key Bank where Ulmen was locked in until police arrived after she refused to take off her surgical mask because she fears the coronavirus when requested to do so by a teller
Ulmen has refused to accept Key Bank’s explanation and says she will be closing her account
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.’