An anti-mask demonstration that took place at Orchard Park Mall in Kelowna is just one of several incidents that RCMP have had to investigate since the mandatory mask policy was put into place across B.C. on Nov. 19.
According to Const. Solana Paré, officers were called to the mall on Nov. 21, after a group of individuals, who were part of a demonstration, refused to wear masks upon entering the shopping centre and then also refused to leave when asked to do so by staff.
“Multiple officers attended the mall to investigate the allegation of trespassing. After a discussion with attending officers, the group agreed to leave the mall to move their demonstration off-site without further incident,” she said.
However, while police were on scene they were notified that an individual from the group had allegedly threatened a staff member of the mall but had left before RCMP arrived.
The investigation into the threats remains ongoing and anyone with any additional information is asked to contact the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300.
Kelowna RCMP notes that businesses have the responsibility due to the recent public health order to ask their patrons to wear face coverings or non-medical masks while on-premises and to refuse service for non-compliance. Individuals have the right not to attend the business if they decide not to wear a protective mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
RCMP were called to attend two other instances over the weekend.
On Nov. 22, police were called to Bean Scene North in downtown Kelowna after three maskless men walked into the coffee shop wielding ready-to-record phones and a laminated copy of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Owner Jennifer West said the men were asked to put on masks, even offered masks, but instead claimed their rights were being violated. They were asked to leave, however, became belligerent and began shouting according to West.
Then on Sunday, a woman had to be forcibly removed from Value Village after she refused to wear a mask in the store or leave when asked.
The RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming as she was being escorted out of the store.
“Enforcement is typically seen as a last resort, but one that can be used if the circumstances warrant, “ stated Const. Parè. “ Police officers can use discretion when enforcing various statutes, and RCMP officers have the ability to use a measured approach when dealing with COVID-19 related situations.”
Masks are required for both customers and employees in indoor retail and public spaces in all parts of the province, except for when eating or drinking in a designated food service area. They will also be mandatory in workplaces and hotels for public areas like corridors and elevators, but not in schools.