Customers refusing to wear a mask and creating a scene have become a staple of social media since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And Campbell River businesses are no strangers to similar kinds of disturbances both before the current mandate from the province to wear masks inside all businesses and facilities and certainly after it.
On Nov. 23, a 26-year-old male from Langley refused to put on a mask in the Campbell River Canadian Tire and openly mocked others in the store for wearing masks, Campbell River RCMP report.
Police attended and removed the male from the store, RCMP spokesperson Const. Maury Tyre said.
“He became well-versed in the new B.C. mask policies that he had apparently been fully aware of while living out of his vehicle,” Const. Tyre said.
Despite this and other incidents, store staff say the vast majority of customers wear their masks. A survey done one two-hour period in the evening discovered 98.6 per cent compliance.
Meanwhile, Const. Tyre said that police have already responded to several calls from local businesses and customers regarding individuals who refuse to follow the new provincial mask protocol.
But as of 6 a.m. on Nov. 27, the Campbell River RCMP had yet to hand out any of the new COVID-19 face-covering fines, Const. Tyre said.
“Fines and arrests are absolutely the last action we want to be taking, but if people continue to push boundaries it’s going to happen,” he said.
Police are reminding the segment of the public that chooses not to wear masks that there are other options to attain items they may be seeking in stores:
- Online shopping
- curbside pick-up
“I recognize there are dissenting opinions and multiple other concepts that can be found online regarding the present mask policies, but right now these are the rules and laws that are being applied equally across the province,” said Const. Tyre. “Being belligerent with a store employee who is just working to feed their family is not going to change the laws and is more than likely going to get you fined or arrested.”
If you have a medical disability that prevents you from wearing a face covering, be sure to let staff at a location know if they are asking you to wear a mask. Your particular diagnosis is your business, but the location you are entering is their business. A suggestion could possibly be a doctor’s note simply excusing you from wearing a mask, much the same way as employers may require an employee to bring in a doctor’s note if they have been sick for any length of time.
In the end, people are doing their best in trying to deal with an ongoing pandemic that many people are frustrated by, Const. TYre said.
“Keep that in mind and try to treat everyone with as much respect as you would want shown to you and your family,” he said.
If someone refuses to wear a mask, they are subject to a $230 fine. If they are belligerent to staff about it, that’s another $230 on top and if they refuse to leave the store, that’s another $230.
On top of that, acting out in public can be an arrestable offence know as Causing a Disturbance or Mischief (by act or omission) as it affects the lawful enjoyment of property.