A Penticton, B.C., liquor owner said the provincial government should beef up fines for those not complying with B.C.’s mandatory mask policy after a confrontation at his store on Sunday.
Jeff Leonard, the owner of the Government Street liquor store, said a customer refused to put on a mask when asked by staff and then allegedly harassed his two female employees.
The man also grabbed a glass bottle of rye and dropped it on the floor, although it’s unclear in the surveillance video if it was an accident.
“He then proceeded to advance on my two staff members and start giving them his opinion about masks, and they insisted he leave the store,” Leonard said.
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The customer complained about the store’s mask policy and said it was not B.C. law, although the measure was enacted under the provincial state of emergency, which gives the province “extraordinary powers” under the Emergency Program Act during the pandemic.
Leonard encouraged those who either can’t wear a mask due to medical reasons, or don’t believe people should be forced to wear masks in public spaces, to order online.
“I understand that some people have health issues. I spent thousands of dollars creating a website in March so we could do online deliveries as well as curbside pickup so there is no need for somebody to come into the store,” he said.
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Leonard also suggested B.C. boost the mask enforcement fine, which is currently pegged at $230.
“Maybe higher fines would help, if people knew they were going to lose a lot out of their pocket they may be less likely to do this sort of thing,” he said.
Leonard said the unruly customer was identified and police officers told the business owner they would be following up and issuing him a ticket.
Global Okanagan has requested a comment from RCMP.
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As outlined in the mask mandate order, masks are required for everyone in many public indoor settings as of Nov. 24.
People with physical, cognitive, or mental impairments are exempt from the order, as well as those who cannot remove a mask on their own and children under the age of 12.
There have been numerous incidents of anti-maskers confronting staff at Okanagan businesses, claiming the mask mandate violates their constitutional rights.
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