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Coronavirus: Owner of Etobicoke restaurant who reopened for indoor dining during lockdown charged

Click to play video 'Etobicoke BBQ restaurant owner faces charges after defying lockdown orders for 2nd day' Etobicoke BBQ restaurant owner faces charges after defying lockdown orders for 2nd day
WATCH ABOVE: Adamson Barbecue is now facing nine charges after defying lockdown rules and allowing indoor dining for the second straight day. Kamil Karamali reports – Nov 25, 2020

Officials say the owner of an Etobicoke restaurant who reopened indoor dining despite coronavirus-related restrictions is facing multiple charges.

Adam Skelly, who owns Adamson Barbecue on Queen Elizabeth Boulevard near Royal York Road and The Queensway, was personally charged along with the business itself.

Toronto police Supt. Domenic Sinopoli said a total of nine charges were laid. It was alleged that indoor dining regulations were breached both Tuesday and Wednesday, the business operated without a licence, illegal gatherings were held, and a closure order from the medical officer of health was violated.

Read more: City of Toronto orders closure of restaurant that opened for indoor dining despite COVID-19 lockdown

Dozens of people showed up to eat inside Adamson Barbecue on Tuesday and the restaurant was eventually served a closure order from Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa in accordance with Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act.

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Despite the closure order, the restaurant briefly opened again on Wednesday.

“Just unbelievable. It looks like he’s going to contravene our order,” Coun. Mark Grimes said outside the restaurant on Wednesday.

“I’ve been in contact with the mayor’s office again this morning [and] Toronto police … We’ll escalate as we have to, but to be clear, we’re going to be shutting him down.”
People enjoy their food at Adamson Barbecue as the restaurant and people defy provincial lockdown orders to shut down indoor and outdoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, November 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Police were at the business on Wednesday, but a crowd briefly persisted and it appeared restaurant service did as well.

Sinopoli said police officers had a discussion with the restaurant owner and his legal team.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Ford tells restaurant owner who opened for in-person dining, ‘you need to shut down’' Coronavirus: Ford tells restaurant owner who opened for in-person dining, ‘you need to shut down’
Coronavirus: Ford tells restaurant owner who opened for in-person dining, ‘you need to shut down’ – Nov 25, 2020

“At the end of the day, they all decided that he and the staff would leave and close down,” Sinopoli said, adding that officers will again take action if the restaurant reopens.

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Demonstrators against lockdown restrictions have used the restaurant as a protest location since its reopening.

Adam Skelly, second right, owner of Adamson Barbecue, talks with police inside his restaurant after defying provincial lockdown orders to shut down indoor and outdoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Dozens gathered in the parking lot Wednesday in an apparent violation of provincial gathering rules which currently limit outdoor gatherings to 10 people in Toronto. Many were seen not physical distancing and not wearing masks.

While charges were laid against the restaurant owner for holding an illegal gathering, no one in the crowd was charged, Sinopoli said.

Premier Doug Ford commented on the restaurant with a much different tone than on Tuesday when he said he “can’t get angry at any business person” because they’re “hurting” and “struggling.”

“I was nice to the guy yesterday,” Ford said.

“Buddy, let me tell you something, you need to shut down. You’re putting people’s lives in jeopardy. You know, I always try to be nice the first time, but this guy is just totally ignoring public health officials. That’s how this spreads.”

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Toronto Mayor John Tory also commented on Wednesday, saying “It is a disgrace, quite frankly.”

Tory said that he would’ve liked to see the restaurant shut down faster than it was both on Tuesday and Wednesday, but added that, as a politician, he does not direct law enforcement and understands officers have a lot to take into account.

“If you ask my opinion as to whether I’d be getting those concrete blocks out of storage right now and going if necessary and putting those in front of Adamson’s or any other place that violates the law in that manner, yes I would,” Tory added.

Skelly took to social media earlier this week to tell people “enough is enough — we’re opening.”

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“Why are we getting singled out and the big multi-national corporations are all essential, well they’re packed. Come on guys, enough is enough, we’re opening,” he said in a three-minute video posted on Instagram.

Skelly is scheduled to appear in court in March to face the charges.

— With files from Kamil Karamali, Gabby Rodrigues and Nick Westoll