A man was issued a $230 fine after refusing to wear a mask inside a Central Saanich business. (Central Saanich Police Services/Twitter)

A man was issued a $230 fine after refusing to wear a mask inside a Central Saanich business. (Central Saanich Police Services/Twitter)

New restrictions unmasking Vancouver Island’s belligerent

Businesses recount customer anger about mask edict, as police pledge fines and enforcement

A Central Saanich police officer was in a local business Saturday, when he noticed a man not wearing a face covering.

The man was also ignoring directional signage and standing in close proximity to other patrons.

According to a Twitter post from the detachment, when the man was reminded to wear a mask, he became belligerent.

The result, under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act, was a $230 fine.

It’s a pattern being repeated around Vancouver Island in the wake of increased instances of mandatory mask-wearing implemented by the province to combat rising cases of COVID-19.

Earlier this month, a customer entered Tseshaht First Nation Market and Gas Bar on Highway 4 just outside of Port Alberni and began to yell at staff and use obscenities.

He was objecting to the store’s COVID-19 protection policy, where people entering the store are required to wear face masks and use hand sanitizer. The male customer moved toward a female staff member. A male staff intervened and escorted the customer out of the store. Staff took pictures of his car with their cell phones before he drove away.

The next morning at approximately 5:30 a.m., a projectile was thrown at a Tseshaht Market window, shattering the window. From cameras, staff were able to determine the same car was involved. They reported the incident to the police.

“Had a market employee gone to work early to open the market, there could have been very serious injury,” a media release from the Tseshaht First Nation Council and Tseshaht Emergency Operations Centre states. “Tseshaht Market is owned by the Tseshaht First Nation and they have the right to put COVID-19 prevention measures in place to protect their staff and customers. People who do not like the protection measures are free to patronize another store.”

Tseshaht EOC Information Officer Hugh Braker said that Tseshaht will not tolerate the abuse of staff anywhere.

“There is no place for this type of behaviour in a civilized society,” he said. “Our staff and customers were exposed to unruly behaviour and assault. People must accept the measures we are taking in our community to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or they can stay away.”

RELATED: Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

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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.

According to Tyre police have 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
  • delivery

“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.”

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.

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.

“We encourage everyone to embrace Dr Henry’s thoughts on this being our time to ‘be kind, be calm and be safe,’” Tseshaht councillor Ken Watts said.

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Saanich Peninsula