anti mask toronto

Anti-masker films herself entering Toronto store maskless and fighting with staff

It feels as if it's been a while since Toronto has had a good anti-masker freakout video, but those who are vocally opposed to the now-ubiquitous orders to wear face coverings in public indoor places are definitely still out there causing a ruckus. 

Take one woman who recently decided to film herself proudly entering a local grocery store face-naked, and getting into it with employees about the city's mask bylaw when they asked her to either don a face covering or leave the store and conduct her purchase from the curb instead.

"Here I fucking go," the woman starts off, obviously on a deliberate mission to create a disturbance.

She chooses independent organic grocer The Sweet Potato in the Junction as her target, telling workers that approach her in a friendly manner to remind her of the mask rule that it "actually goes against my human rights."

Staff appears to do their best to work with the woman, informing her of the option to purchase goods online for pickup and delivery — but the shopper says that the earliest time she could find to take advantage of this alternative was 7 p.m. that evening, which was too late for her needs.

The manager then says that if she's paying by card, they can actually process her purchases with a debit machine at the front door.

The woman then challenges the store's adherence to the bylaw, which states that exemptions can be made for "people who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons... or those who require accommodation in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code" and that "proof of a medical exemption is not required."

She deems them asking her to leave "illegal," though she finally begrudgingly agrees to exit the store and pay outside.

"Just so you guys know, you guys are going against my human rights and the bylaws, do you understand that? Do you?" She says on her way out before demanding the full names of three employees who had asked her to cover her face while on the premises.

The more than seven-minute-long interaction is extremely tense and awkward, with the customer raising her voice at points as she alternates from patronizing to aggressive, and threatening to file a human rights complaint and sue the company.

She also calls the staff's visibly calm and collected behaviour "despicable" and discriminatory.

"You cannot tell me that I cannot come into your store," she says. "I understand you have other options available for me but you have rights and responsibilities as a business.... you cannot tell me that I'm trespassing, that I'm coming in here illegally, because you are actually the ones breaking the law."

She also compares the fine the store would face for not properly enforcing bylaw 541-2020 to the six-figure amount she believes they would have to pay for violating her human rights, which she says "would stand in court."

She cites a bylaw penalty of $750, which is actually $1,000 in Toronto, plus the fact that the province can fine an individual up to $100,000 and a corporation up to $10,000,000 for violating the Reopening Ontario Act.

The act states that "the person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall ensure that any person in the indoor area of the premises of the business or organization... wears a mask or face covering during any period when they are in the indoor area."

Regardless of fines and figures, masking up has become a second-nature practice globally as part of our overall social responsibilities during the health crisis.

Even if the efficacy of the simple garment was somehow proven to be extremely low, if there's any chance at all that it can help prevent transmission — and thus lower COVID numbers and help us reopen faster — why not just wear it?

In speaking about the incident, the Sweet Potato told blogTO that it knew its strengthened mask policy "wasn't going to make everyone happy and we are genuinely sorry about that," and also that it has worked hard to come to some sort of agreement and make special arrangements for customers who can't or won't wear masks.

"It is really stressful for our team to have these sorts of interactions," they said. "In this case, despite threats, they stayed professional and compassionate and while we're sorry they had to endure this, we're proud and grateful for how they managed the situation."

Lead photo by

@6ixbuzztv


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