Doug Ford says he's not angry with restaurant still open for indoor dining despite lockdown
Toronto's controversial Adamson Barbecue is the talk of Twitter today after opening for indoor dining despite strict provincial lockdown orders forbidding restaurants from providing all but delivery and takeout services.
You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone with an internet connection who isn't aware of the drama taking place at the Texas-style BBQ joint's Etobicoke location right now.
In the three hours since reopening to the public on Monday, Adamson has reportedly been visited by Toronto Police, city staff, public health officials, bylaw enforcement officers and dozens of anti-maskers who are keen to express their support for owner Adam Skelly.
And yet, despite his incredibly public flouting of COVID-19 lockdown rules, Skelly has not yet been charged or fined.
In fact, much to the shock and dismay of people watching from afar, his controversial restaurant has been allowed to stay open for the rest of the day.
Today's verdict. Adamson BBQ will stay open for indoor dining today. The restaurant may get ticketed/fined later this week...or not. Fascinating episode. We'll see what happens next! https://t.co/eRKh9238ee— Michael Taube (@michaeltaube) November 24, 2020
Toronto police inspector Tim Crone, whose team has now left the scene, told reporters that if any charges are laid against Adamson Barbecue, it will be later this week.
"There will likely be enforcement action taken this week," said Crone duirng a media scrum after leaving the restaurant.
"By the sheer number of people here right now we don’t have the ability to physically remove everybody at this point and it would be unsafe to do so."
Public health and bylaw enforcement officers are said to have spoken to an "agitated" Skelly, who booted all journalists from the property except for those from right-leaning outlets such as Rebel News and The Toronto Sun.
Crone said that public health officers first need to take the results of their investigation to higher-ups for further action, but that charges are expected to be laid eventually.
Adamson BBQ owner Adam Skelly seems to be enjoying this. He was head nodding to Rage Against the Machine and grinning ear to ear as bylaw officers walked in (he’s in blue and black plaid). Then told media to get off his property. #covid19ontario pic.twitter.com/D2Dgw9NgRU— Kamil Karamali (@KamilKaramali) November 24, 2020
Many of those who've been following the situation in all of its maskless, screaming chaos were absolutely gobsmacked by the news that Adamson Barbecue would remain open for the rest of today, and that Skelly hadn't been fined.
"Hey folks, a law that is not enforced is not a law, it's a recommendation," wrote one Twitter user, tagging Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor John Tory and the Toronto Police Service.
"We either have a lockdown or we don't. Ignoring those who break the law encourages others and extends pandemic suffering of those who do follow the rules."
"Utterly ridiculous — these health orders need to be enforced," wrote another of the situation at Adamson Barbecue.
"The selfishness of the business owner and his supporters are exactly what are going to cost us any sort of Christmas gatherings with close family and lead to a disastrous rise in cases."
Skelly, who just walked out from the restaurant, says he wasn’t fined today. Won’t talk to us more— Jennifer Pagliaro (@jpags) November 24, 2020
City spokesperson Brad Ross issued a statement shortly before 1 p.m. noting that "bylaw enforcement and police are continuing to investigate Adamson Barbecue."
When Ford was asked about why no charges were laid against the restaurant or its owner, who flat out antagonized officials with a video posted to Instagram last night, the premier delivered a muddled response.
"Well they have to follow the rules — there can't be rules for one group and not the other, and I wish that they'd just follow the rules," said Ford of Skelly's team during his daily pandemic press conference on Tuesday.
Then, switching gears, Ford said: "I can't get angry at any business person, they're hurting right now and they're struggling and they're doing everything they can to stay afloat."
The premier reiterated that restaurants cannot open, and that if more start doing this, the province's COVID-19 situation will be "in worse shape" within a matter of weeks.
"I can't get angry at any business person right now," Premier Doug Ford says about Adamson BBQ in Etobicoke, saying that everyone should be following the rules.— David Hains (@DavidHains) November 24, 2020
It's a more subdued approach than he's taken compared to, for instance, young people in crowded parks.
"I'm just asking people please follow the guidelines, and the quicker we can get these numbers down the quicker restaurants can open up and the quicker we can get the vaccine distributed the quicker businesses can go back to normal," said the premier.
Asked later again during the press conference to clarify his thoughts on the Adamson Barbecue situation, Ford pointed out that there's a difference between small businesses trying to survive and the "yahoos" he's chastised for hosting private parties against government orders.
"I'm not gunna get up here and start pounding a small business owner when the guy's holding on by his fingernails," said Ford. "I differentiate between someone at home being reckless and having 100 people over and partying or renting a public storage place — that's reckless."
"I don't condone it," said Ford of what's happening at Adamson, which is in his home riding of Etobicoke. "I don't condone that he opened up, but you know, I feel terrible — my heart breaks for these guys and it's not fair."
"But please," urged the premier. "In saying all that, you've got to follow the protocols and the guidelines. That's what it comes down to."
Join the conversation Load comments