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Mask-wearing ‘prohibited’ at gift shop in Keremeos, B.C., despite public health recommendations

The sign at the One Eyed Budgie Gift Shop in Keremeos, B.C., says masks are prohibited inside the store.
The sign at the One Eyed Budgie Gift Shop in Keremeos, B.C., says masks are prohibited inside the store. Submitted

Despite provincial and federal health officials strongly recommending people wear non-medical masks in public spaces to combat the spread of COVID-19, a Keremeos, B.C., business owner is promoting the opposite advice.

Dave Shearer, the owner of the One Eyed Budgie Gift Shop, erected signage at his shop that says mask-wearing is prohibited inside the establishment.

“We love you and respectfully appeal, by way of 1000’s of research papers, that you consider the harm that you may be causing yourself and others, by way of wearing a mask,” the sign says.

Read more: B.C. bans all social gatherings, indoor group physical activities in Lower Mainland amid surging COVID cases

Shearer said he posted the sign one month ago and has also converted half of his art gallery into a “truth centre,” disputing evidence-based public health recommendations and restrictions.

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Dave Shearer transformed half of his art gallery into a “truth centre,” disputing evidence-based public health recommendations and restrictions.
Dave Shearer transformed half of his art gallery into a “truth centre,” disputing evidence-based public health recommendations and restrictions. Submitted

“The curious aspect to that is the information that is out there that is contradicting those public health measures,” he said.

“There is information out there that is showing hypercapnic effects in masking-wearing.”

Shearer wouldn’t say what his sources of information are and disputes suggestions his actions are irresponsible.

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He added that he will not stop customers from entering his store if they decide to wear a mask.

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Read more: Coronavirus: Anti-vaccine, anti-lockdown ads appear in West Kelowna

“We have it there to mainly open discussion because there seems to be a lot of people moving forward without asking questions on the matter, and it has come to our attention through our research, that not only are masks ineffective, but there are concerns regarding the health of the person wearing it,” he said.

Shearer said no safety protocols are implemented at his business. They do not observe physical distancing and have not erected plexiglass barriers, he said.

He said the gift shop has never undergone a public health inspection, and he has not received any warnings or fines.

When reached for comment, the health authority said: “Interior Health expects all businesses to abide by provincial health officer orders, including having a COVID-19 safety plan in place to protect customers and staff.”

The owner of this gift shop in Keremeos, B.C., said he has not implemented a COVID-19 safety plan.
The owner of this gift shop in Keremeos, B.C., said he has not implemented a COVID-19 safety plan. Submitted

Interior Health also said the public health team will follow up with the business owner.

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The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) said wearing a non-medical, cloth mask or face covering, can play a role in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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The mask-wearing practice is now an “expectation” in indoor public spaces in B.C., the public health department said.

“This is because some people can spread the virus when they have very mild symptoms or may not know that they are infected,” the BCCDC said on its website.

Read more: Coronavirus: Kelowna City Hall spray-painted with anti-lockdown messages

“In this case, wearing a mask can help protect others by containing your own droplets when talking, laughing, singing, coughing, or sneezing. Wearing a cloth mask is also expected at shopping malls, grocery stores, community centres, on transit, and other public indoor spaces.”

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Canada’s top doctor, Theresa Tam, also unveiled new recommendations for non-medical masks, saying they should be made of at least three layers and stressing their importance as the country heads indoors for winter amid a surging COVID-19 case count.

Face masks should comprise two layers of tightly-woven fabric such as cotton or linen, plus a third layer of a “filter-type fabric” such as polypropylene, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

To read the BCCDC’s recommendations on mask-wearing, click here. 

To read the government of Canada’s recommendations on mask-wearing, click here.