farm boy mask policy

Ontario Farm Boy fans freak the heck out as tweet about maskless employees goes viral

If you come for Farm Boy, you'd better come correct. And even if you do (come correct, that is) good luck dealing with all the backlash.

Ontario's answer to the upscale American boutique grocery chain Trader Joe's appears to have as much of a cult following here as TJ's does in California.

What I'm saying is that people who love Farm Boy are internet-vicious when it comes to defending their (increasingly ubiquitous) produce-forward market brand of choice, some of them going to great lengths this week to clap back against someone who complained about one location's mask policy.

Michael O'Byrne, a retired news anchor for CTV Ottawa, took to Twitter early Thursday evening to express his discomfort upon seeing employees working without face masks on at his local Farm Boy.

As of March 21, Ontario no longer requires people to wear a mask or face covering in most public settings. Previous to this, residents of the province were legally obliged for two full years to mask up every time they entered any indoor space that could be considered high-risk for the spread of COVID-19.

The move to lift mask mandates provincewide has proven controversial, with many experts saying it's too soon to take away this particular public health measure. Others are thrilled to be free of masks and share their smiles again with the world.

Whatever the case, it's now simply a choice for people to wear face masks in public, one that many people are making. Some businesses and even entire regions have chosen to keep their own masking rules in place for the time being.

It would appear as though Farm Boy is not one of the companies still mandating masks for its employees, opting instead to follow the government's lead in allowing everyone to choose for themselves.

O'Byrne wasn't pleased to learn this, tweeting to Farmboy last night: "Really surprised you've chosen not to keep your staff masked at least for a few more weeks. Maybe you can tell me why? Very disappointing."

For such a normal-sounding sentence, the dispatch spread like wildfire, bringing the term "Farmboy" near the top of Twitter Canada's trending topics list by Friday morning.

With more than 1,700 replies (plus 400 retweets and just over 1,500 likes) in less than 24 hours, O'Byrne's tweet is getting attention. Unfortunately for him, a bizarre amount is targeted toward him personally.

Some people are tweeting back to point out that it's perfectly legal for employees to go mask-free at Farm Boy or almost any other business in Ontario right now.

Others are applauding the Sobeys-owned grocery for giving its employees the freedom of choice.

Others are standing up for Farm Boy, defending the business against anyone who might complain.

"I dont think this was very fair to call out a business like this. It has been a hard few years," replied one person to the now-viral tweet. "Masks are now a choice. They arent doing anything wrong. You just dont agree. Not fair IMO to single out one."

Farm Boy has always been respectful of mask exemptions. Doesn't surprise me in the least that they respect individual choice, too.

Others are of the camp that everyone should mind their own business when it comes to who is and isn't wearing a mask in public.

Of course, not everyone agrees with the stance that grocery store employees should frit about maskless while handling food.

Some have even pledged to boycott the popular chain over its apparent lack of mask rules.

The main difference between these two camps is that pro-mask people don't seem nearly as eager to attack anti-mask people for their comments. That's not a judgement, just an observation.

When asked by blogTO about the Twitter kerfuffle, Farm Boy declined to comment.

It's certainly a strange time to be living through, but most people can surely agree that it's not a good look to flame anyone who simply shares an opinion on Twitter.

"As a society, we must remain kind, considerate and respectful toward those who continue wearing a mask," said Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore when discussing the lift of mask mandates earlier this month.

"We must also expect indicators, such as cases and hospitalizations, to increase slightly as Ontarians increasingly interact with one another... However, thanks to our high vaccination rates and natural immunity, as well as the arrival of antivirals, Ontario has the tools necessary to manage the impact of the virus."

Lead photo by

Tanya Mok

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