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Regina Subway accused of enforcing capacity limit policy just on the homeless

A Regina Subway has limited customer capacity to three people, but the policy was used only on a homeless man who was waiting for his lunch.
A Regina Subway has limited customer capacity to three people, but the policy was used only on a homeless man who was waiting for his lunch. Natasha Pace / Global News

Subway Canada has issued an apology after a Regina restaurant enforced its capacity limit policy only on the homeless.

The incident, which has gone viral on Facebook, occurred at the Subway on Avonhurst Drive at around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

According to Sheree-Ann Sadler, who documented the incident publicly on social media, said she was asked by a homeless man to buy him food at that location.

“He was [appreciative],” wrote Sadler. “He broke my heart, so I planned to put away my cash and take out my card to buy him enough for lunch and dinner.”

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Both Sadler and the man entered the restaurant, but just the man was asked to leave.

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Sadler said an employee told the man the restaurant has a policy where just three customers are allowed in the restaurant at a time because of social distancing measures related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Keep in mind… I was the fifth person [in the restaurant],” Sadler said. “That means this gentleman was the sixth person, double the ‘limit’ they claim to have. On top of that two other people came in behind me and the gentleman.”

In a restaurant full of eight customers, it was still only the homeless man who was asked to leave, Sadler said.

She asked the employees why the policy was being enforced only on the homeless.

“The employee looked at me in shock and said ‘there always was’ and I said ‘well why wasn’t it enforced until now?’”

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According to Sadler, the man then turned to her and said “thank you, but forget it” and then “ran out of the store.”

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“Once he left, the employee who was trying to enforce the three-person rule turned back to what he was doing and didn’t say another word… even though there were still seven people left in the store,” Sadler said.

“I said ‘you should be ashamed of yourselves, all that man wanted was something to eat,’” Sadler said. “He wasn’t making noise, he wasn’t begging or bothering anyone, he didn’t smell, he was literally standing there social distancing like everyone else waiting to get his food.”

Sadler said another customer, Kandi Singh Hamel, also stood up for the man.

After she raised the issue, the restaurant refused service to Sadler so she left.

“I went outside and drove around for a bit trying to find the gentleman, but he was nowhere to be found,” Sadler said. “I pulled over and cried.”

She has since filed two formal complaints to Subway Canada, and her story has been shared over 3,000 times on Facebook. Global News has reached out to Sadler for comment.

READ MORE: Crowded shelter or $880 fine? Homeless face ‘impossible’ coronavirus choice

In a statement to Global News, Subway Canada called the situation “unfortunate” and said they “apologize to all those involved.”

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Cristina Wells, country director for Subway Canada, confirmed the capacity limit at the Avonhurst Subway is three customers, but it wasn’t being enforced consistently.

“The limit of three customers at one time in this Subway restaurant was established in consultation with the local public health authority, and was determined to be the best approach for ensuring safe distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in a small space,” Wells said in a statement.

“It does appear that enforcement of the three customers limit was inconsistent on this occasion, and we apologize to those involved.

“The restaurant has now put up new and larger signs to help better communicate the policy, and reviewed the importance of consistency in the application of this rule with staff, as well as that of clear and respectful communication with all of our guests.”