A Montreal woman with a serious health condition says she was refused entry to her local grocery store for not wearing a mask, in spite of having a doctor’s note with her.
Anne Schlenker says she was turned away not once, but two days in a row, on Sunday and Monday from an IGA located in the city’s downtown.
“I was told that I could not enter the store without a mask and that if I tried to enter the store, they would call the police,” Schenkler said.
For her entire life, the 61 year-old has been living with a serious neurological condition that can cause her chronic and excruciating pain.
The level of pain can be so unbearable that the condition — trigeminal neuralgia — has been dubbed the suicide disease.
Schenkler says she’s not against wearing a mask but in her case, it’s not possible.
“I have hyper, hyper sensitivity in my face and even the smallest of chains, the tiniest of earrings will set off my symptoms,” Schenkler explained.
“A mask, I mean… it would be like throwing an atomic bomb at my face.”
The Quebec government has ordered that as of last Saturday, anyone in an indoor public place must wear a mask, but has exempted people with medical conditions from the new policy.
Authorities said that a doctor’s note wasn’t even necessary.
Schlenker says she complained to the store’s management and later received a reply offering to waive the online shopping fees so she didn’t have to go to the store.
But Schenkler says that’s not the point.
“It’s just totally, totally unjust and I know that I’m not alone in this situation,” Schenkler told Global News.
Quebec-based lawyer Julius Grey says cases such as Schlenker’s are a human rights issue and if that happens to you, you have options.
“Perhaps the very best solution would be to go to the human rights commission and say that you’re being discriminated against because of handicap, it affects you differently than another person,” Grey explained.
“It immediately stops the prescription from running and very possibly, you can get a favourable decision from there.”
On Tuesday, the manager at the IGA store that Schenkler visited told Global News they decided to reverse their policy.
“We have no other comment,” said Bruno Ménard, the vice-president a co-owner of IGA Louise Ménard.
Schlenker also received an email stating the reversal.
She says she’s relieved and will be heading back to the store.
“People need to know that the law protects someone like me,” Schenkler said while asking people to be tolerant.