Lower Sackville restaurant under fire after allegedly ignoring Public Health guidelines

Click to play video: 'Health officials investigating a Halifax-area restaurant' Health officials investigating a Halifax-area restaurant
WATCH: Complaints have been registered about staff at a restaurant in Halifax not being required to wear masks. Graeme Benjamin has more – Jan 9, 2021

The manager of a restaurant in Lower Sackville, N.S. that called customers inquiring about mask use “sheeple,” is facing harsh criticism online and is now being investigated by Public Health.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Hellas Family Restaurant responded to the criticism they’ve received about employees allegedly not following mandatory masking regulations for indoor establishments.

“To all you SHEEPLE, thank you for all your comments, it is the greatest free publicity,” the post reads.

“Since most of you Yahoo’s are not our customers, your comments don’t carry any weight. Keep it up ,the PATRIOTS are in the house.”

The post received immediate backlash, with many calling for Public Health to investigate the restaurant.

“I WAS a customer. Good luck keeping your business open with such a disregard for public safety, laws and total disrespect of your customers,” one Facebook user wrote.

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“I’ve been there so many times I cant count . But you can count on me never returning,” said another.

Read more: Halifax restaurants prepare to reopen as COVID-19 restrictions lift Monday

Roberta Hibbert is another former customer. She said she recently purchased gift certificates from the establishment with hopes of supporting a local business, but quickly gave them away after reading the social media posts.

“Everyone is very, very frustrated, they’re very angry,” Hibbert told Global News during a phone call Saturday.

“The community is saying, ‘sorry, we can’t support this rhetoric, we can’t support the behaviour, both as a community member and also as a business.”

Global News reached out to the restaurant on Saturday, but it was closed.

During Friday’s COVID-19 briefing, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said he’s aware of the conflict and an investigation is underway.

“We’ve already asked that we send out our restaurant and Occupational Health and Safety inspectors to that today,” Strang said Friday.

“If we become aware of that blatant disobedience, we’ll act very swiftly.”

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Click to play video: 'Dine-in service in HRM and Hants reopens after second lockdown' Dine-in service in HRM and Hants reopens after second lockdown
Dine-in service in HRM and Hants reopens after second lockdown – Jan 4, 2021

Indoor establishments, such as bars, restaurants and public facilities reopened to the public on Monday. As part of the reopening rules, mask use is mandatory for all customers and staff, unless they are sitting at a table.

Paul Russell, the councillor for the area, said he’s seen the concerns that have been posted online and understands.

“We don’t have any discretion in it. This is the rule. We have to wear a mask in a restaurant. The servers have to wear a mask in a restaurant. That’s just what it is,” said Russell.

Read more: New Brunswick reports 30 new coronavirus cases, implements travel restrictions for K-12 students

Nova Scotia RCMP say they’re aware of the situation, but wouldn’t say whether charges are pending.

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Global News has reached out to Public Health to see if action has been taken against the restaurant and are awaiting confirmation.

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