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Woman is banned from NYC bagel shops after coughing on another customer

New York City Bagel and Coffee House said the maskless woman is banned from all of its locations.
/ Source: NBC News

A bagel chain in New York City has apologized after a customer was recorded not wearing a mask inside one of its store and coughing on a patron who brought it to an employee's attention.

The customer who was coughed on, Allison Goodbaum, uploaded the cellphone video of the episode, which happened June 6, to Facebook, where it has been viewed more than 47,000 times.

Goodbaum said she was at a New York City Bagel and Coffee House in Queens when she noticed a patron not wearing a mask and coughing without covering her mouth.

"I politely pointed this out to the woman working at the store," Goodbaum wrote in her Facebook post.

She said she told the employee the store should enforce the chain's policy that patrons wear a mask to enter to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo requires all New Yorkers wear face coverings when social distancing is not possible.

"The unmasked patron overheard my complaint and became enraged yelling at me calling me names claiming she has covid antibodies and doesn't need to wear a mask in public so I should mind my own F’ing business," Goodbaum wrote. "She then proceeded to come towards me and repeatedly cough on me as seen in this video."

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Goodbaum, 32, said she was sharing her experience to "say please choose kindness in these situations."

She added, "Look out for one another like patrons who took this video and asked if I was okay."

The maskless woman in the viral video has been identified by a former employer as Lauren Balsamo. Weill Cornell Medicine Graduate School of Medical Sciences said Balsamo has not worked there since January 2020.

"Weill Cornell Medicine condemns the actions recently exhibited by a former employee in a video circulating on social media," the school said in a statement on Instagram. "Given our commitment to protecting the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers and fighting on the frontlines of treating COVID patients, we are steadfast in our public health commitment to further prevention and spread through social distancing, wearing masks, frequent hand-washing and other health precautions."

Goodbaum and Balsamo did not immediately return requests for comment Monday.

In a statement posted Saturday to its Instagram page, New York City Bagel and Coffee House said Balsamo's behavior was unacceptable.

"Customers and employees MUST wear a mask in all our stores," the statement said. "This has been our policy since the very BEGINNING."

The chain, which has multiple locations in Queens, said the staff was caught off guard in the June 6 incident and that they called authorities "and no one came to the scene."

"Most of our staff and the cashier who was working that day are high school students who were frightened from the behavior of this woman," the statement said.

Employees have been instructed not to serve anyone without a face covering and to call the police if a customer gives them any trouble, the store said.

A spokeswoman for the New York Police Department said there was no complaint report on file regarding the incident as of Monday afternoon.

The maskless woman is banned from all of its locations, the store said.

The statement concluded: "We apologize for the horrific behavior of this woman."