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Restaurant says group with Niagara MPP Oosterhoff ignored posted COVID-19 rules

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett

The restaurant that hosted Progressive Conservative MPP Sam Oosterhoff and a large group says the patrons chose not to follow posted COVID-19 rules about wearing masks and distancing.

In a Facebook post, Betty’s in Niagara Falls is defending its staff saying the gathering was “reminded several times” that they were required to wear masks when not seated at their table.

Read more: Niagara MPP apologizes for not wearing mask in group photo after backlash

“We can remind guests but we cannot strong-arm them into following rules,” the restaurant said in its post.

Since putting the post up on Monday night, Betty’s has received more than 350 comments, many offering support for their efforts to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“You did your best in an awkward situation. Mr. Oosterhoff, as a serving member of government and espouser of high moral principles, should have behaved better,” is one of the replies the restaurant received.

“I, too, feel bad for the restaurant staff who had to serve these entitled jerks. But I also think restaurant management should have stepped in to protect their staff by asking the party to leave,” another said in the Facebook post.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Ford reiterates support for Niagara MPP Sam Oosterhoff after maskless group photo' Coronavirus: Ford reiterates support for Niagara MPP Sam Oosterhoff after maskless group photo
Coronavirus: Ford reiterates support for Niagara MPP Sam Oosterhoff after maskless group photo – Oct 27, 2020

Niagara West’s Oosterhoff apologized on Monday for not wearing a face-covering at the event last weekend.

A social media post that’s since been removed from his account, showed the MPP with a large group of more than 40 people posing for a photo, not wearing masks or physically distancing.

Oosterhoff admitted he should have worn a mask when the group photo was taken and apologized in a release to Global News.

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“This was an event at a staffed banquet hall, with under 50 people, including five tables distanced and limited to under ten people at each,” said the MPP.

On Monday, a number of government officials and the head of the Ontario Hospital Asociation (OHA) blasted the action in statements with the latter asking for the MPP’s resignation.

Read more: Ontario reports 827 new coronavirus cases, 4 more deaths

However, a day later Premier Doug Ford once again defended Oosteroff saying that he “accepts” his apology,” adding that “everyone makes mistakes.”

“He understands. I’m sure he’ll pass it on to the rest of the folks that were there as well,” Ford said.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce, for whom Oosterhoff is parliamentary assistant, said the incident should be a reminder “to the public” to do eveything to keep neighbours safe.

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Read more: Over 10,000 people in Canada have died from coronavirus

“I know that the member has apologized in this instance, and I think it just should remind us that we must lead by example,” said Lecce.

Global News reached out to Oosterhoff’s office to address the allegations made by Betty’s restaurant. The MPP replied with the same apology he issued on Monday.