Confrontations over COVID-19 rules have escalated from upset customers to screaming to physical attacks.
A teenager in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was reportedly attacked while working as a hostess at a Chili's restaurant last weekend for refusing to seat a large party at a single table.
WBRZ identified Kelsy Wallace, 17, who says she was working on Sunday when a group of about 13 people came in to eat.
"My general manager tells us we're not supposed to sit a table over six because of the coronavirus,” Wallace is quoted saying.
'I feel threatened!': Viral video shows shopper throwing tantrum, but who protects workers?
Brinker International, parent company of Chili's, did not immediately respond to USA TODAY's request for comment. The restaurant's guideline on seating state that it "is limiting seating based on local mandates and social distancing guidelines."
Louisiana guidelines for Phase 2 state that restaurants should keep 50% of seating capacity.
Wallace recounted the incident to WBRZ:
She pushed me. And when she pushed me, all I knew was to push her back. I reacted. That's when her and her daughters, they all came. And they're grown women. I'm 17 years old. They're like, 20, 30, and the woman that pushed me looked like she was 40. So I'm standing there, they're on me, beating me. I'm standing there trying to hit them, trying to get all of them off me. And the lady she takes a wet floor sign and slams it in my eye. And I had blood rushing everywhere.
The Baton Rouge Police Department confirmed to USA TODAY that it was investigating "an incident that occurred at a Chili's restaurant involving a juvenile female victim."
"A juvenile female employee was trying to figure out how to seat the large group of individuals, which exceeded the number allowed at one table under coronavirus restrictions," the BRPD said in a statement. "As a result a physical altercation occurred. The employee suffered minor/moderate injuries."
A GoFundMe page started Wednesday says Wallace is a rising senior at Broadmoor Senior and Career Technical Education Center.
Wallace told WBRZ, "The managers let them walk out. Like, how y'all let them leave like that? I mean, they could have locked the doors until the police came."
USA TODAY has reached out to Chili's for comment.
The same day of the incident in Louisiana, a similar attack occurred in Pennsylvania.
Two people assaulted a children's theme park employee Sunday near Philadelphia after the teen reminded them of the park's face mask requirement.
The two people who punched the 17-year-old Sesame Place worker have been tentatively identified as New York residents, Pennsylvania police told The Bucks County Courier Times, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.
"On Sunday, August 9, a guest assaulted and seriously injured one of our team members," Sesame Place said in a statement to USA TODAY. "We’ve been in close communication with the family of our injured team member, and are hoping for a full and speedy recovery. The health and safety of our guests and team members is our top priority, and violence of any kind is unacceptable and not tolerated at our park. We are cooperating with local law enforcement on this ongoing investigation. Any further questions should be directed to them."
Health experts have said that individual choices, such as wearing a mask and social distancing, can help slow the spread of COVID-19. Stores and restaurants have been educating customers on safety protocols as they reopened, but aside from posting signage about masks and escorting customers refusing to wear masks off the premises, there is not much employees can do.
Contributing: USA TODAY's Jordan Culver, Curtis Tate and Dalvin Brown, and Bucks County Courier Times' Christopher Dornblaser.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chili's host attacked for refusing to seat a large group