'Am I doing something wrong?' Okanagan businessman seeks public input on kicking out anti-maskers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'Am I doing something wrong?' Okanagan businessman seeks public input on kicking out anti-maskers

Security footage taken of a disgruntled customer who hurled abuse at a Kaleden Petro Canada store employee after being told to wear a mask.
Image Credit: Facebook/ Kaleden Petro Canada
November 27, 2020 - 7:00 AM


A south Okanagan businessman is looking for public input as to how to handle customers openly opposed to wearing a mask, following an unpleasant exchange between a customer and his employee Wednesday.

J.B. (Jas) Bansoota says a customer came into his Petro Canada gas station convenience store yesterday evening, Nov. 25, without a mask.

“My employee asked her nicely that she needed a mask. She said she didn’t have one on her, so my employee told her politely that it is a provincial health order to wear a mask in public places, and we cannot allow her in the store without a mask,” he says.

The woman then told Bansoota’s employee that she had a medical condition and was exempt from wearing a mask. The employee even called Bansoota, who spoke to the woman and said they would be happy to serve her if she could support her claim.

“As soon as I said that, she started threatening me with a lawsuit and screamed at my employee. She called him a 'fucking immigrant' and a few other rude things and left the store,” Bansoota says. “Usually people will say ‘fuck you’, stuff like that and leave, but this woman last night took my number, called me, threatened me, said she was going to launch a lawsuit against me, which was fine, I’m used to these kinds of things. The only thing that ticked me off was the abuse she subjected my employee to as she was leaving. That’s when I lost it."

Bansoota recognizes there is some confusion behind the requirement to wear a mask, but disagrees with people who say it’s just a mandate and can’t be forced.

“My employees are just trying to follow the provincial health order. We hear so many excuses everyday from customers to not wear a mask, so it is really hard to distinguish between who is telling the truth and who is lying,” he says. "I don’t care if its a rule, mandate or a law, what matters to me if you don’t want to wear a mask, don’t wear it, but then, stay at home. If you come into my business and there are other people wearing a mask why should I give you an exception? Even my employee is wearing a mask, and he’s behind plexiglas.”

He took to social media to see how followers thought small retailers should handle these situations: Ignore the mandate and risk a fine, or try to educate the public and refuse entry to those who don’t follow it.

“(I wanted) to put it out there and see what people are thinking — am I doing something wrong by not letting people in the store without a mask?”

He's not getting a lot of help from provincial guidance either. According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, wearing a non-medical, cloth mask is now a requirement in many indoor public spaces by people 12 years and older. This includes shopping malls, grocery stores, community centres, retail settings and restaurants and coffee shops except while eating or drinking.

The centre also states “people who cannot wear a mask or cannot put on or remove a mask on their own are exempt. Some people cannot wear a mask for psychological, behavioural or health conditions. Be respectful of people who can’t wear a mask,” but provides no information on how a business can verify if a person has a valid health reason for not wearing one.

Bansoota says by far the majority of the comments coming back are supporting his stance on the issue, with only a few saying wearing a mask shouldn’t be enforced.

“We get one customer an hour on average who doesn’t want to wear a mask – others expect us to provide a mask, but that’s an additional cost to me. Most of the time, it seems people are too lazy to go back to their vehicle to get one, or are trying to get in and out of the store without wearing one,” he says. "My main thing is to stop people from taking out their frustrations on the employees. They’re making 15 or 16 dollars an hour, taking all the heat, while I’m sitting in my home. They’re taking all the heat, so my thing is, if you don’t want to wear a mask, don’t come."


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