Kamloops store owner feels drained by ongoing anti masker conflicts | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops store owner feels drained by ongoing anti masker conflicts

Some store customers are getting angry at staff when asked to wear a mask as per the provincial mandate.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Some store owners are fed up with the backlash they reportedly are receiving on a daily basis by customers who don’t agree with public health regulations for COVID-19.

A mandate for wearing masks in all indoor public places was put back in place on Aug. 24 in response to an increase in transmissions and because of the newer, more transmissible Delta variant.

READ MORE: Masks required for all indoor public spaces in B.C. starting tomorrow

Anjou Sandhu owns a corner store in Kamloops with her husband and she said she is wondering how much more abuse she and her staff can take from customers who don’t agree with the COVID restrictions. The name of the store is being withheld to avoid likely repercussions.

“We are burning out,” she said. “Someone just came in here and threatened me about liability because this person doesn’t agree that masks should be worn. I am a small business owner following the rules and trying to survive and help my employees put food on their tables. This is our livelihood."

A small sign on the door asks customers to wear a mask, keep two meters apart, keep hands to themselves and stay home if they are sick.

Sandhu said it is common for her or her employees to be put in a position of traffic cop, as customers argue amongst themselves or complain about the behaviour of another customer.

“It really is a no-win situation,” she said. “All we can do is monitor it the best way we can and hope that things don’t get out of hand.” 

READ MORE: Masks must be worn at all times in B.C. gyms, fitness and dance studios

Sandhu said it has been a very challenging eighteen months trying to survive as a business during COVID.

“The rules are always changing and we never know what is going to happen the next day,” she said. “Supplies are stopped unpredictably when outbreaks happen at supply facilities so I have to always be thinking about having alternatives on hand. It is exhausting.”

Sandhu and her husband have run the store for almost twenty years and have a loyal, long-standing customer base.

“It hurts me when I am working so hard to meet everyone’s needs during such a challenging time and then some take their own frustrations out on me or my employees,” she said. “Thankfully most of our customers are amazing. I really appreciate them.”

Sarah Weber is a part time employee at the store who has worked there for years. She said she doesn’t feel threatened while at work but that the behaviour surrounding masks and social distancing can be draining.

“A few days ago a man came in without a mask, coughing, so I asked him to put one on,” she said. “He got very angry and swung the door so far out and so forcefully the arm at the top is bent. Most of the time there are arguments among customers when someone isn’t keeping a social distance.”

Weber said the behaviour is uncalled for and asks others to be more respectful.

“We are just doing what we are told,” she said.

READ MORE: Masks required for all indoor public spaces in B.C. starting tomorrow

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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