Watch: US shopper refuses to wear face mask because it is a 'free country'

Costco employee Tison has been called a "hero" for his calm response to a customer refusing to wear a facemask.
Costco employee Tison has been called a "hero" for his calm response to a customer refusing to wear a facemask. Photo credit: Twitter

A US shopper is under fire for refusing to wear a face mask in a video trending on social media.

Many United States citizens have been protesting rules implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Now a video has emerged of a Colorado Costco employee asking a customer to leave the store because he refused to wear a face mask.

"I'm not doing it because I woke up in a free country," the customer said, after threatening he would post the video to his 3000 Instagram followers.

The employee, named Tison, can be seen politely telling the customer he has to leave if he won't wear a mask.

"You're no longer welcome here in our warehouse. You need to leave, thank you very much," he said before taking the shopper's items away.

The clip has been shared widely online. Commenters on Twitter congratulated Tison for his handling of the situation, including American actress Busy Philipps who called Tison a "hero".

"As a Costco member and physician, I appreciate the steps you and Costco have taken to protect all Costco members' health and not just an entitled shopper's selfish demands," one person wrote.

"Good job Tison!" said another. "He was just feeling rebellious. Kind of a side effect of being told what to do a lot lately. I'm a proud Costco shopper and I appreciate your strength during that BS."

Now a new video has emerged of the customer addressing the backlash after returning home.

"I've got every right to not wear a mask anywhere because this isn't about wearing a mask - this is about control," he said.

"I'm not the sheep; y'all are the sheep… I was one of the only people in that store not wearing a mask, which means you're protected from me and I'm protected from you. ... So if everyone else is wearing a mask, then one person should be able to fly, if anything."

Costco president and CEO Craig Jelinek previously admitted the policy might not be popular.

"Costco employees are required to wear face coverings, and now we are asking that Costco members do so too. We know some members may find this inconvenient or objectionable, but under the circumstances, we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience. 

"This is not simply a matter of personal choice; a face-covering protects not just the wearer, but others too. In short, we believe this is the right thing to do under the current circumstances."

They said they were following the advice of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommended the measure where social distancing was hard to maintain.

The US now has more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 93,000 deaths, according to data from John Hopkins University.